February 11, 2009

Moon Pie


It was a year ago today that my father died. Delmos Perry was a man that loved his family with a heart that bore care, concern, frivolity and enjoyment of company. He was as comfortable speaking to kings as he was making nonsensical noises to a child in his lap, just before giving them coffee and pot liquor from collard greens by the spoonful…

There are some people that you meet in life that can hold an audience of one to ten thousand enraptured when they speak, he was such a man. Imagine somewhat of a mix of Justin Wilson, James Earl Jones, Jerry Clower, and Sam Clemens. Oh, with a dose of Judge Roy Bean tossed in…

He was a proud Southerner who wore his love for this region on his sleeve with a fierce protectiveness and passion that you just don’t find much of anymore. A gentleman in every sense of the word.

The day of his funeral we walked down to my uncle’s house (the place where they grew up, inherited by him after my grandmother passed away) to take him some of the food that shows up by the truck load on such occasions. This was Donald, my Dad’s brother, who went on to follow my Dad not long after that day… While we were sitting there he began to speak of my Dad.. His voice was full of laughter, love and yearning for a time long past… This is what he said, as close as I can recall…

“Delmos was a mean SOB..” sly belly laughs… “He would just as soon shoot you as look at you when we were comin’ up” Donald adjusted himself in his chair, picked up a Styrofoam cup with tissue packed inside and spit tobacco juice in it… “This one time we worked out a plan when we were cookin’ out for something in the front yard out there. I don’t remember what it was, somebody’s birthday or something, but everybody was there. He had this old starter pistol he kept around, and we went inside and got it, he tucked it in his pants and he told me what he wanted to do… Hell.. I thought it was funny so I went along…”

“We got out there in the yard and Delmos started yellin’ like he was all pissed off at me and then we went to fightin’ to beat all, right in front of everybody. Mama started yellin’ for us to stop it and sent somebody after daddy.. Then Delmos give me the signal and I started backin’ up yellin’ ‘Don’t do it Delmos! Don’t do it!’ and I turned and started running up the driveway like I was tryin’ to get away… He yanked that starter pistol out of his belt and started shootin’ at me like he was tryin’ to kill me, I fell on the ground…” Donald was laughing at this point, smacking his leg with tears running down his cheeks…

“Mama dropped down to her knees like she was havin’ a heart attack and daddy came runnin’ around the side of the house, everybody was yellin’ and screamin’ ‘He killed Donald! He killed Donald!’”

“Well Daddy knew better than that, he saw right off what we were doing.. Man… let me tell you, neither me nor your daddy was able to sit down for a week after that…. “ He took a few minutes to stop laughing and wipe his face.. “But that was your daddy. Always into something, had keep things going all the time… Lord, I thought mama was gonna skin us alive ….”

Everybody that knew him has a story about him, a time spent with him that they will never forget, this is mine…

I was probably nine or ten years old, we were working in the yard, off to the side of the driveway. Dad had cut some trees down with the chainsaw and sliced them up for firewood. There were several people there early on but after the wood was all loaded and taken back to the shed and stacked, it was just the two of us left.

“Drag all those limbs up and pile them over there across the road” he said as he wiped the sweat off his face.. It was summertime and as hot as you could get in Georgia, I kept looking back toward the house with a longing for the air-conditioned comfort… Yet I knew there was no stopping until he said so. I spent the next couple of hours along side of him pulling limbs across the road, building a pile about ten feet or so high. Then we started raking the pine straw and wood chips up. When all this was done I was about to drop from the heat.. Covered in sweat and dirt I was hoping beyond hope that we were done..

“Get that gas can and put it on the back of the truck…” I ran over and grabbed the can and sat it near the tailgate. He then called for me to hop in and we took off.. He said we needed more gas and something cold to drink.. We made our way over to the store in Sargent. It was a small place, cinder block and painted white. I stood inside in front of the big black fan that was running while he talked to the guy that was behind the counter about people I had never heard of.

Dad had a thing about getting snacks that nobody but him would eat, barbecued corn nuts that would break your teeth if you tried to eat them, or “diablo hot salted peanuts” that no human could stand to put in their mouth, or boiled peanuts.. 'slime in a bag' is what I called them… I went outside to wait for him by the truck, he came out with a bag of horrible snacks and a couple of drinks, RC cola.. he handed me a moon pie and a drink. On the way back home he talked about growing up around there and the things that he did while I ate the moon pie and downed the icy beverage. I always laughed when he talked about his adventures as a child. As we pulled back into the driveway he told me to get the gas off the truck and my heart sank… I couldn’t begin to imagine what type of tortuous manual labor I was about to have to do. He reached behind the truck seat and pulled out a mason jar.

I watched as he poured gas into the jar all the way to the top. He went across the street and doused the limb pile with gas and set it on fire. The flames were high and ungodly hot as we tended it and watched it burn until it began to get dark. All the while he talked about working in my grandfathers garden and growing up just down the road. My grandfather came up there as evening set in and we all sat there by the huge fire and I listened as they talked about things they used to do and the trouble my dad got into. When it had grown to full darkness my dad went across the road to the truck and came back. I was watching the fire and heard my grandfather yell out “Now Delmos, don’t you do that!” I then saw a full mason jar of gas flying through the air and ran backward away from what I knew was coming…

That was the first ever mushroom cloud I had seen in my life. The explosion was tremendous and limbs blew out several feet in all directions. I stood in awe as I watched the fireball rise slowly up, I could see the huge grin on my dad’s face as my grandfather admonished him for his actions. For a few brief seconds I was afforded a glimpse back in time to see my dad as a child getting in trouble…

That was a good day….

I miss my Dad today more than others and think I will cap off this evening by having myself an ice-cold RC cola and a moon pie.

9 comments:

Jules said...

This one made me laugh and cry. I didn't think it was possible but just reading it made me long for him even more. You are right, everyone has a story, a memory of him. I have many myself. I miss him.

HeartofGoldPlate said...

It can't be as hard as it is for you guys, but it's been hard for me being away from it. I have to keep reminding myself it happened, and it's like reliving it all over again. This entry helped though. I'll miss him telling me to go find a nice southern boy.

They don't make 'em like Grandaddy anymore.

Junebug said...

What a nice story.
Again i was with you at that campfire
of burning limbs.
Not that you would ever forget your dad he is always in your heart and in your mind too.
He truly was a Southern Gentleman.
xo

The Angry Georgian said...

Sounds like your dad was a man after my own heart.

C.S. Perry said...

It breaks my heart that my son will never hear him tell those stories.

Fattie said...

Your Dad sounds like an amazing man. This was a great tribute.

Thanks for the comment, btw!

Kokopelli said...

Great story about your dad! It would have been an honor to know him.
But another thing: did you hear something of Lady Roots? I'm worried a bit....

Dixie_Angel said...

Oh Clay...you don't know what it means to sit down and read your blogs like this. I cried, I laughed and I cried some more. I could just here grandaddy telling you that story...can't tell you how many times I've heard it myself. Yesterday was his birthday and even with snow it was a somber day. Just wonder what they're doing now.......

gary_kayla said...

Clay like dixie I love your blogs and your pictures.I have a lot of memories of your dad and one of several that sticks with me is when I first came around your dad came down to grannys in the Jeep and Donald me and Jody rode around on the property and explaining the property wasn't as fun as hearing him and Donald talk about DONALD DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN...and listening to them stories the whole time was the greates time I had.Brought back my memories of days with my dad.Thanks alot and keep them up I enjoy reading them all.