Tuesday will be the 10th anniversary since my father’s death. Back in December, discussing work schedules and the like with Bulletin Editor Gene Deason, I told him how I’d planned to come from San Angelo to visit my parents New Year’s Eve, 1999.
I wanted to start the new millennium eating black-eyed peas with Mom and Dad, at their little square oak table table, and Dad reminding us, as he always did, how much we had to be thankful for.
“Things might seem bad,” he would have said, “but you’ll never know how much worse they’d have been if you hadn’t eaten black-eyed peas.”
Anyway, if you’ll remember, there was that whole Y2K thing. As it turned out, I had to work that New Year’s Eve. I told Gene the Standard-Times required all hands to be in the newsroom, in case there was a computer glitch and we had to start over again. My point was, I allowed logic to rule, and nixed the San Angelo to Mullin trip.
In March, 2000, Dad fell bringing in the groceries and fractured his pelvis. His already poor health spiraled downward, and he died at Brownwood Regional seven weeks later.
I wished then, and still wish today, I would have gone to Mullin to see Mom and Dad. As a result, when making a decision now about what I want to do, or what someone thinks I need to do, I weigh the decision about how I’m going to feel if I never have the opportunity again to do the thing I want to do.
I miss Dad and I guess I always will. Nearly every day, something happens to remind me of him. Or, on the flip side, I’ll imagine a little voice in my mind that seems like it could be Dad’s – clear and plain. But really it’s just my conscious putting forth Dad’s brand of right and wrong, justice and kindness.
Dad didn’t live long enough to ever meet his first great-grandchild, my granddaughter, and that grieves me. He also never got to meet his youngest grandson, or second great-granddaughter, or know that my sister, at 51, met and married a man – a standup good guy whom Dad would have liked a lot.
He missed knowing my older brother moved back to Sanderson to teach music and that our youngest brother has passed his certification to become a superintendent.
The summer before Dad died, most of the family had gone to Sanderson for the Fourth of July, and in the car coming back, it worked out Dad and I were the only two in my car.
He asked me if “everything was OK” in my life and I assured him that it was.
“Have you got things you still want to do?” Dad asked.
“Oh yes,” I said. “I love newspaper work, but someday I want my own column.”
“Keep dreaming the dream and doing the work,” I remember he told me.
And, as usual, Dad was right. In May, 2000, the Standard-Times made me a weekly columnist.
In one of my first columns, I told the story of how when I was 16, I was driving my brother’s Rambler station wagon and the brakes failed, causing me to drive the car into the wall of the dime store in Sanderson.
For years, after, if I would call with a problem, Dad would groan, “What’s the matter Cane? Drive into a building?”
Dad believed that whatever happens, you get up, dust yourself off, “slap a smile on your face” and adjust your attitude.
Play the cards your dealt, Dad said, and by example, taught us to value important things – God, family, country. Be happy with what you have, and you’ll find you have enough, he instructed. If you wish for more, there won’t be “enough” anywhere to be had.
The wisdom Dad shared became his gifts to us. We miss him, surely, but treasure what we will always have.
Candace Cooksey Fulton’s column is in the Brownwood Bulletin on Sundays. She may be reached at candace.fulton@brownwood bulletin.com.