Keep Smilin’ with Rosie Preston – Memories of my daddy

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By Rosie Preston

This Father’s Day will be a special one for my sisters, cousins and me to remember how much my dad, Truman Preston, loved us and how much we loved him.

As the oldest of his four girls, my dad gave many memories to me. I’ve often wondered if I did not get the best years from him because I was born first. I had known he would have loved to have had a boy, so I did everything in my power to be a tomboy. I was active in sports. I played softball when I was a teenager, my dad never missed a game. I was the pitcher of our team and won a trophy at the end of the season.

My gift was that no matter the height of the girl I was pitching it to, I could put the ball right in the pocket. I admit I was terrible at batting. The other team usually had a pitcher who could send a ball blasting at about 60 mph toward me, and I don’t think I ever saw the ball coming. But it was a great summer that I’ve never forgotten after all these years.

The years we lived on Lay Springs Road, I attended Highland Elementary School for first and second grade. Many times when I arrived at home after riding the big yellow school bus, my dad would be waiting for me if he had not been able to work that day. He was a brick mason, and his work depended on the weather. If it rained, or snowed, he could not work. So many times, I would jump for joy when he was there at the end of our driveway!

Daddy loved to walk, and our home was surrounded by woods. One path we often took was to follow Black Creek to under Noccalula Falls. It was a very beautiful walk. My only fear was that we might find a snake, but only twice during those years did we see one. I remember my daddy saying, “Don’t move. There is a snake in that bush!” Of course, I froze, and the snake soon slithered into the woods. For many years, I didn’t know that snakes spent most of their time in bushes and trees. I thought they stayed on the ground. It’s quite the miracle that my sisters and I didn’t see more snakes as we climbed trees, walked in the woods and played in the spring by our house.

Daddy loved to fish but never had much luck. One time, we had our lines out for a couple of hours when my line sank and began to quickly move away through the water. He jumped up and snagged a six-pound bass! He was so proud his daughter caught a fish, and he showed photos of it to everyone!

Daddy also loved football and was a coach for a little league grammar school team. He usually took me to practice with him, and I was as proud as if Bear Bryant was there! My dad loved Coach Bryant and Alabama football. His players were always welcome at our house, and he kept in touch with most of those boys his entire life.

There is no way I can count the many baseball games and football games my dad took me to when I was growing up. He taught me how to throw a football correctly, but I never had the strength to throw it as far as I would have liked to. But just to get out in the yard and pass it back and forth with my dad was so much fun!

My dad’s sister lived in Birmingham and had five children, the oldest being my cousin Judy. The other four were boys. Judy and I pulled a prank on my daddy one night. He was always taking the boys places and leaving us behind, and one particular night they were going to a drive-in movie. My dad was going out the front door when I pick-pocketed his wallet. Oh, my, was he ever mad when he returned home to get it! He did, however, take me and Judy with him to the movie!

It could be said that my dad was a good yard guy, except for that he wasn’t. He seemed to love to mow the lawn, but for years mowed down every beautiful bush or flower that had bloomed in our yard before we moved there when I was in the third grade. My mother and I would try to stop him, but we never were able to, and our yard went vastly silent of all the beauty it had held for so long. The people who lived in that house before us had won the Beautification Award the year before my dad changed the yard’s appearance!

Maybe that’s the reason I love my yard with the beauty of so many flowers, plants and bushes I’ve planted for nearly 20 years. My grandmother on my mother’s side loved her yard and her flowers, and when I look at my yard, it reminds me so much of my Mawmaw. She drew me in by getting me to help with the planting and grooming of her yard, and she and I loved getting our hands dirty! So much for me not following my dad in this situation!

There was one hobby that my daddy and I would do together. Back then, we could buy small art sets that included the paint-by-number kits that had oil paint in small little cups and brushes to paint the small drawings. We would sit and paint together, and that might be the reason why I’m an artist in my own right. I’ve used oil painting, water painting, colored pens and pencils for several art projects. The work was pleasing to me, and I have most of my paintings away. I’m now in the process of giving away many things to my younger family members since I’m ready to reduce the belongings in my home. As I’ve gotten older, that seems like the right thing to do!

My daddy passed away in March of 2008 after suffering from Parkinson’s Disease for several years. For the last few months of his life, he lived with me and Phil. I had put him in four different nursing homes, and one day after we picked him up to spend the day with us, my dad refused to go back. I understood why and I agreed, and dad was overjoyed to find I cooked just like my mom! He was constantly telling me how good or how bad my cornbread was on any given day. My mom was the best cook in the entire world, and I hated to hear if a batch of cornbread did not live up to his standards.

Keep Smiling, Rosie

Contact Rosie Preston at rosie.preston@yahoo.com.

 

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