My special person was my dad, Hollis B. White. I can remember going hunting with him when I was very young. We would get up before daylight and head for the woods. I was too young to have a gun, so I would just sit beside my dad on a log and help him watch for a squirrel.
As the sun would slowly light up the woods I can still remember the awesome beauty of nature coming alive. Sometimes we would slip through the woods and he would teach me how to be very quiet. I knew from the smile on his face and the twinkle in his eye that he was pleased with the attention I was paying to what he was showing me.
Dad taught me many things about fishing too. We spent many wonderful hours together in an old fishing boat catching whatever we could. We shared many a can of sardines, potted meat, Vienna sausage and crackers together on the water. Things just seemed to taste better outdoors with my dad. We sure had lots of fun together.
One of dad’s passions in life was his annual pheasant-hunting trip to Nebraska. He went every year for 31 years. I went on several of those trips. We saw many interesting things in the Midwest. One thing dad always had to check on when he went to Nebraska was the old boots on the fencepost. It seems that many years ago some old farmer put his old worn out cowboy boots upside down on top of his fence posts. Soon it seemed like everybody who passed through that very rural part of the country added his or her old boots to the next fence post. When I saw the fence there were literally hundreds of old boots hanging on at least a mile of fence posts. This was always fascinating to dad.
My dad passed away Feb. 28, 2002. He was 80 years old. I dearly miss him, but I know he is in a better place now with no pain or suffering.
You see, my dad had to deal with some things that most people never have to face. He had melanoma (skin cancer) since I was just a kid. He had numerous operations, skin grafts, over the years.
These resulted in the loss of an ear, part of his nose and several facial scars. This would cause some people to go into hiding and stay away from the public. Not so with my dad.
His disfigurement seemed to be a minor thing to him. He was always in the public and always greeted everyone with a smile and a cheerful remark. He never complained about anything. It was strange, but two minutes after someone met my dad for the first time they didn’t seem to notice the scars. His cheerful personality seemed to cover them up. He touched many lives by showing people that their problems weren’t as big as they thought they were.
Several years ago dad developed Alzheimer’s and eventually went to a nursing home. Here is where being married to the same woman for 58 years pays off. If there has ever been an angel on earth, my mother is it. For two years my mother traveled to the nursing home to feed my dad almost every day. The first year that was about 40 miles round trip daily. Then we moved him closer to her in Oxford. She faithfully made the daily trip right up to the end, even though the nursing home had qualified employees to feed the patients. Mom would always bring dad a little bowl of her home cooking because she said she knew what he liked. Even though dad was unresponsive much of the time his last year, he always smiles when he heard his angel’s voice in the room.
Although I know you are in a much better place now, I will always miss you dad. Thanks for finding time to spend with me when I was growing up. Good memories are never forgotten. Happy Father’s Day.
P.S. Cecil took your hunting boots to Nebraska and hung them on the fence post.