Yes . . . I know it is Father’s Day. But I’m still going to tell you about the myriad of things my Dad did not ever do!
My Dad never complained. He never uttered anything that had a whining tone to it. I never heard anything about being “poor” even though I realized later in life that we were indeed considered poor. I never saw or perceived any hint of him not wanting to go to work. In fact, during much of my growing up years, my Dad always seemed to have two jobs. He always kept a full time job and often had a part time job of some sort. He never gave us any indication that there was any other way to live or to thrive. “A hard day’s work for a fair day’s pay” was indeed always his motto.
“Big Ed” . . . “Ed Buddy” . . . “Mr. Ed” . . . never, ever showed us kids or anyone else any jealousy of others. He never complained about any “system” working against us Cajuns in order to keep us down. Just the opposite was true. He pointed to others who had achieved varied levels of success and highlighted their hard work, education, and steady progress in developing their particular talent or skill. He never taught us to believe that wealthy people had somehow come about their gains in some unscrupulous manner. He instead touted what they did to get to that place and how they often gave back much to the community in many ways that helped others.
My Dad never belittled my Mom. Although he may not have been the ideal romantic that some might have created in theoretical relationship textbooks, he showed love and adoration for Mom in the many ways our culture put at a high premium. My Dad brought home his paychecks and handed them to Mom. My Dad didn’t come home smelling of liquor. My Dad didn’t chase women. My Dad didn’t put others ahead of my Mom or us kids. He made sure us kids honored and respected Mom. He didn’t let us think there was any other acceptable way of life. Never. Ever.
My Dad didn’t ignore wrong doing. He was most often a jovial person and relatively quiet with respect to other’s behavior. He did not practice the outwardly judgmental characteristics that we witness so much of today. But . . . he spoke up forcefully when he believed something was out of orbit from a plane of fairness and/or lawfulness. What many perceived as my father’s unabridged anger, I mostly saw as unfettered passion with respect to what was right and what was wrong. He always reacted in a consistent manner regardless of who the victim/perpetrator of wrong doing happened to be or where they were from.
“Big Ed” never discriminated and he failed to teach us discrimination. Although we grew up in The South, the only thing I ever saw my Dad do, and the only thing he taught us, was that we should judge people solely by “the content of their character” . . . I’m not sure if he plagiarized that, but I found this point irrelevant. I witnessed nothing but an atmosphere of hang shakes, pleasant exchanges, and mutual respect of everyone when I was with my father. Whether I joined him on his job, or was with him out on a personal errand, my Dad often looked like a politician in the way he reached out to everyone he knew and at least cordially acknowledged those he didn’t. But no, he was never running for office. I didn’t know while growing up that this was considered “civilized behavior” . . . I just thought this is the way it was supposed to be everywhere. He never taught us to hate and we were never taught to fear anyone. I grew up in a utopian fog by today’s standards, I guess. Imagine living again in the environment my Dad created for me. We interacted with so many people from so many different backgrounds, and never did I fear anyone for any reason relative to the tribe they happened to be a part of.
My Dad never ignored those in need. I realized later in life just how little my parents had with respect to financial resources, but were quite wealthy from investments in the culture and traditions that their growing up in South Louisiana had paid them. Dad seemed like he was always the first to pack up a hammer and some other tools, and then head out to help a friend with a project of some sort. He was always helping Mom prepare and deliver meals to someone sick or someone suffering a loss . . . or just because it happened to be a day ending in “y”. If there was a “dinner” or a “supper” being made to raise funds for someone or for some cause, my Dad always seemed to find the time and money to go out and buy at least a couple of plates. He never overlooked the needs of his neighbors, his friends, or his community.
My Dad was never ungrateful. I had sometimes thought he was overdoing it with his expressions of thankfulness to others that had in one way or another perpetrated kindness or some act of assistance upon him. As much as I saw him help and do for others, I guess at one time I felt that these “reciprocal” gestures were deserved and expected. Certainly, in my mind they were indeed to be appreciated, but the animated gratefulness he often expressed was a bit beyond my complete understanding until later in life. I eventually realized just how genuine this behavior of his was and also came to realize something he had apparently learned long before. Outside of my miniaturized world view of that era, there was, and still is, a great big world out there where one comes to see kindness and assistance as a scarce commodity at times. I learned later that there is a world out there in which some people believe you don’t have to be kind. And many who believe that you don’t have to offer assistance either. Yes indeed, I now know why my Dad was never, ever ungrateful.
“Ed Buddy” was also never unkind to anyone. Doing or saying something to hurt someone, for no justifiable reason, was an alien concept to me . . . at least as far as adults were concerned. Sure, kids at school were perpetrators and/or victims all the time. But I never saw my Dad (or any of our adult relatives and friends) behave this way toward anyone at any time. Even if, on very rare occasions, my father took issue with, and/or was anguished about, something that someone may have done or said, he never did or said anything that could be considered just plain mean. So, of course, I thought “mean” things were just something that went on around “mean” kids at school. I grew up later not being sure if I should be thankful to have been that well insulated by my Dad or not.
“Papa Ed” as he is most often called by those closest to him now, never stopped learning and growing. As a somewhat literate 57 year old adult, when I look back and truly examine where we all were when I was a child, I am absolutely amazed at the incredible evolution my father has gone through. Unlike too many of his peers, he did not stay stuck in one gear with respect to various matters he was taught about as a younger man. Although not a college graduate, my Dad never stopped learning and being inquisitive. Science, politics, geography, history . . . no significant subject seemed to bore him. I’m not saying my Dad can sketch a diagram of a nuclear reactor, but his evolution and learning has contributed so much to an acute awareness of his surroundings. I know I’m biased, but I am truly impressed at this near 77 year old’s advanced situational awareness . . . and I’m talking about a much bigger situation than that of just little old Cottonport and Avoyelles Parish in lovable South Louisiana.
I’m sure glad my Dad didn’t do a lot of things. I guess I need to tell him that.
SHARE this if you are also happy that your Dad didn’t do a lot of things. Whether your Dad is still with us or not, today is the day we get to honor all fathers. Today is the day we need to surround ourselves with those who know or knew and have/had an understanding of and a respect for your Dad. The stories and the memories bring smiles and the day allows us to do more than just send a card. Today we get to force them to forget their humility and allow us the pleasure of offering accolades.
Happy Father’s Day mes amis . . .
The Easy Cajun