My father won custody of me when I was 2yrs old and did not remarry until I had graduated high school. He raised me by myself, through the good, bad and sometimes even ugly. Try being a teenage girl and having only your father available for advice..need I say more? *smile*
My father had a series of careers throughout his lifetime. He faught in Viet Nam (63-67) He had joined the Air Force and volunteered to be a Commando, but the Air Force did not have Commando school so they sent him to Army Green Beret school. When he went to Viet Nam, he went "Loaned from the Air Force to the Army as an American Advisor to the Vietemse Paratroopers" So no one really knew who he was. LOL
After the military and running with the Hell's Angels he made his way to Texas. Here he worked on a dairy and some how managed to get his way into the leather industry. He was truly a brilliant leather artist, even winning 1st place at the State Fair of Tx for a saddle he tooled and built himself. It broke his heart when he had to sell it due to financial issues.
During his leather artist career, he became "The World Famous James S. Wood" because he also performed Rattlesnake shows. I spent many weekends all around the state of Tx while he performed shows with the Heart of Tx Snake Handlers. By the time was I was almost out of elementary school he had branched out on his own. The summer after my freshman year, dad had a gig at Texas Safari (no longer open) where he performed snake shows. Through that it branched to stagecoach and wagon driving, training a zebra to pull a wagon, exotic animal handling and numerous tv shows. Oh let me back up and say, when I was in the 2nd grade, he was on "Those Amazing Animals" a branch of "That's Incredible"
My senior spring break was spent in El Paso with an elephant, ostrich, python and various other animals. It was not uncommon for me to bring home baby lions, bears and tigers all because of our working at the exotic animal park.
After I graduated my father began giving tours of down town Waco (Tx) with a wagon pulled by mules. He soon bought his own carriage and gave carriage rides as well. When he decided to give up these...he had found out he had cancer.
To say the least I had an amazing childhood. When it was cold we were out cutting firewood (a source of income) While my classmates were enjoying Saturday morning cartoons, I was bundling up to cut and split cords of firewood. Once, a tank froze over and we "ice skated" in our boots. We would take break and go searching in the woods and river banks for creatures, tracks and fossils and thus my geology love was born.
I grew up on a ranch and we worked cattle. It was nothing to ride the bus home from school and see a note on the fridge with the keys to the truck telling me where to go. Quickly I would change, take off, do a few donuts in the pasture and then meet up with him to work cattle. I remember sitting down with him after another incident involving fencing and cattle and he said, "If you ever marry a rancher, be sure he has good fences." I think there might have been something deeper there, as I never did marry a rancher but the statement still sits with me as long as the memory of the wooden corral under my behind and the smell of cow patties floating through the air.
My dad taught me a few things about parenting. 1) Stop and smell the roses or cow patties, Look at the world around you and involve your children. 2) You can talk with your children. You can trust a young adult with information. I was helped weed the girls from his dating list and put my current "mom" number one on the list 3) Laugh. My dad was funny. A dork sometimes, but funny. Stupid jokes, bad jokes, funny stories were always running around through my head with him. We swapped them. It was not uncommon to call each other up just to share a joke. 4) Live life....he took risks, chased his dreams. There was something always bigger and better on the horizon and I never stopped dreaming. Even as an adult, I am chasing my dreams. My dream...a doctorate in Geology. 5) Give your opinion. My dad didn't brow beat me with his thoughts but spoke his mind once and then let me mess up or correct the issue.
I am sure there is more....I just can't think of them.. I do miss my dad...man do I miss him. I catch myself several times going to call him to tell him something funny that happened. Or to tell him I won a scholorship or to tell him I love you. I miss his laugh and seeing his eyes crinkle. I miss the handle bar mustache kisses. I miss his knee high boots and big western hats. I miss the fact there was always a book or magazine in his hand. I miss skipping (as a child) with him across the mall parking lot. I miss just saying a punch line to a joke when the situation called for it and we both knew what was being said. I miss his voice, his singing, his huge embracing hugs. I miss him.
My dad in his hey day
My dad about a month before he died. He was getting a Mary Kay facial with me!! Even sick, he still had fun! He hated the way he looked at the end, but he was still wonderfully my father!