He Wasn’t Big On Compromise

Published: Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 01:00 PM.

And I wasn’t even the wayward son. Leon could do things that just defied logic! He was always in trouble. Daddy didn’t cut him any slack. Leon was the oldest and was expected to share a bigger portion of the load and to be an example for his younger brothers. I thought Dad could be a little hard on him at times. But then, Leon would take my bicycle and ride off to Jackie Burns’ house for the whole afternoon and I’d go crying to Daddy.

I never considered the complexities of being a father. I had no clue of the sleepless nights; the prayers offered up; the doubts and fears eating at a heart; or the hopes and dreams one so desperately wished upon a growing child. 

I knew my Father would lay down his life in a heartbeat for mine. That was obvious from birth.

’Course, he had a strange way of showing it at times. He’d send us over to Mr. Brooks’ place to pick cotton. I’m not sure if it was some kind of teaching lesson or punishment. That stinging sun and those sharp prickles on the end of the bolls piercing up under your fingernails would make you suspect the latter! I’d pick all day and earn maybe forty cents. It didn’t seem worth it. Daddy wouldn’t even mention the hot sun, the bleeding fingers or my bent over back. He asked what I was going to do with my “hard earned” money. It did make me feel a little proud. It was like he was treating me as a grown up. 

When I got ready to go off to college he came into the bedroom where I was finishing up packing and stood around for a minute without saying anything. I figured Mom had sent him in to give me some going away words. “Son,” he paused as if searching for words when it is a hard time for words, “be good” another pause, “and do right.” He turned and hurried out.

To this day it is the single best piece of advice I’ve ever heard anyone utter.

Daddy died in 1979. Leon was caring for him and with him to the very end, still setting an example for his younger brothers.

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