First memory of Faris Hayter, I was an embarrassmen
From L to R: Cousin R.D., Mark, Dennis, Dad
|As usual, I don't have a clue.|
I had a dad for right at 30 years. For the first three of those 30, I don’t remember a thing about him. I’ve got a piece of paper that says when my body showed up on this planet, but my retained consciousness didn’t arrive till three of four years later.
I don’t remember anything about Daddy until Thanksgiving of 1952. Dad had taken the family to the Foley’s Thanksgiving Parade in Downtown Houston. From my prospective we were standing in the front of a tall building that was surrounded by other tall buildings. And, every person in the world was standing with us. I couldn’t see a thing but the posteriors of about a dozen people in front of me. Occasionally, there was a gap allowing me to see men wearing hats. There was a time when men wore church-going hats practically everywhere they went.
The parade was noisy as all get out. People laughing, drums beating, horns blaring, children screaming… not a sad scream. It was almost pleasant, as I remember. I kept Mom to my right. She had a diaper bag around her shoulder and was clutching in both arms a wadded blanket with my kid sister in the middle of the wad. Jill was only about seven months old, so her memory of the time is somewhat shady. Blank, in fact.
I wouldn’t have remembered it either had Dad not decided to give me a better look of the goings-on. Apparently, I was wearing a bewildered look. I wore that a lot back then. Still do. Anyway, on a whim, Daddy suddenly reached down, picked me up and twisted me in the air so that I landed on his shoulders with my feet dangling.
Dennis must’ve retrieved Dad’s hat, because it flew off when I latched onto Dad’s head. And, boy, did I cry. It was really more of a scream that had no hint of pleasantness to it. That was the moment Dad realized his fifth child was afraid of heights.
Dad kept me up there for probably a half-minute, in the hope I might calm enough to enjoy the view. He was a dreamer. With my scream becoming discernable among all of the happy screams, he pulled me up and off, and placed me back on terra firma. I don’t remember Dad’s exact words, but I do remember his tone. Later, I recognized it as the voice of disappointment.
I don’t know if the parade was a family tradition or just a spur of the moment thing. What I do know is that it was the last time the family ever went.
I would like to say that was the only time I remember disappointing my dad, but that’s just not the way of real life. Truth is, I had a great home life that included two caring and loving parents and the best brothers and sisters in the universe. However, as caring as Dad was, he was no Jim Anderson or Ward Cleaver. I’m not sure anyone was.
My father was an only child, raised by his dad, Grandpa Ed. My Grandma Pearl left early in my dad’s life, apparently because being a sharecropper’s wife during the Great Depression just wasn’t a part of her plans. If you had known Pearl, you would’ve picked up on that immediately.
After Dad left home, Grandpa Ed married my Grandma Nancy. She was the soul of sweetness. Daddy ended up a father with a wonderful wife and seven kids. Mom was pretty much our June Cleaver, only she was not opposed to giving whoopin’s. At the end of the day, if no one had gotten a whoopin’, we drew straws. (Perhaps a bit of an exaggeration.)
However, there was no question that Daddy ruled the roost. I’ve written dozens of stories about Faris Hayter. In fact, my fourth article, published in December of 1980, was titled “Our first Christmas without Dad.” Like several of you, I spent more Christmases without my father being around than with him.
When I learned that Dad had just suffered a heart attack, I raced to the hospital just in time to learn that he had passed before I got there. The family gathered in the hallway where we hugged on Mom and each other. I never cried. The next day we made plans for the funeral. I contacted people from Mom and Dad’s church, and Larry and I called family in Oklahoma. I didn’t come close to even tearing up during the telling of Dad’s passing.
With all plans made, and everything running smoothly, Kay and I went to what is called, the “viewing” at the funeral home. I stood with friends and family and laughed about old times. I greeted each visitor with a smile and handshake. I was a brick… up to the time my friend Kenneth Nichols walked in.
Kenneth, a tough guy who worked outdoors all his life, and had hands that felt like callused steel. When he walked up to me, I held out my hand for him to take, but he brushed it aside and put his arms around me. It was in the grip of that dear man that I started bawling. I thought of the sacrifices my Dad had made for his family; for the times he borrowed money and worked over-time to pay off the expenses that always follow family emergencies; for the many dreams he had for his life that never came close to reality.
My memories of Dad cover some of the greatest and some of the worst times of my life. Over the years, I have realized what a blessing it was to have experienced both. To state the obvious, we are the sum of all our life’s moments.
June 19, will be the 36th Fathers Day without my Dad being around… if you don’t count the first three years of my life when I don’t remember him being around. My respect for that man has grown with each year. Some might call that selective memory. I see it as the result of the grace that both Dad and God demonstrated in the life of our family. – Happy Fathers Day to Dads everywhere!