June 17, 2010

Happy Father's Day


For my father, Delmos Perry...

Father's day is approaching again. Everyone be on the lookout for cheap gifts aimed toward grilling something or smelling better.

Me? I'm planning on a trip to Ireland to fish and play golf, then spend a few nights in an old inn with a fantastic pub where the locals will treat me with kindness and feed me the best food I've ever eaten. This, of course, will take place shortly after I win the lottery...

This will be my third father's day without my dad. I've been missing him these days and find myself talking to him quite a bit lately.

The thing that hurts my heart is that he has so many grandchildren and great grandchildren that will never know him. I was extremely lucky in that both of my sons were able to meet him. Patrick loved him and James was completely in awe of the man. He knew that Patrick loved his kawasaki mule so he told my mother that he wanted him to have it. I told her the other day that he would be tickled pink to know that James loves that thing as much as he does. I make sure that any kids that come around out here get a chance to ride on it and have spent many hours picking my way through the woods the way dad would to give them a bit of a taste of what he would do.

So.. for your benefit, his progeny, I will tell you kids a bit about him so that he will always be there for you with his wit and wisdom. So gather around and take a seat....

He was born In Sargent Ga. on August seventh 1934, in a little house by the railroad tracks behind what used to be a store. His childhood was one of hard work that he didn't shy away from. His parents both worked for the cotton mill in Sargent and raised most of the food they ate. He had daily chores that he would do and was always counted on to fulfill these duties. He never failed. That was him, serious, responsible, loyal, and completely faithful. He never once missed a day of school. That's true, he went for twelve years and did not miss one day. He would always get to school early when he first started and would fill the coal buckets to keep the place warm. He did whatever job there was for the teachers he had to keep them happy and make their day easier. Cleaning erasers, taking out garbage, anything that was asked of him he would do. When he finished school he married his girlfriend and stayed with her for the next fifty four years. He went to school and learned Morse code, which he used in a job he had for a while. He worked for a company that sold printing equipment for over forty years. He worked his way up through the corporation to be regional service manager. He was in charge of service technicians for the southeastern United States. The employees there all liked him and the customers loved him, he was fair and decent to everyone. The hours didn't start until eight o'clock, but he would leave home at five thirty in the morning and have coffee made and everything ready to go as soon as the doors opened. He never complained too loudly when he would get treated poorly at work and managed to take everything in stride. He provided for his family and made sure that if they needed or wanted anything they got it. He would go to stores in Atlanta and put Christmas gifts on layaway, and pick them up on Christmas Eve when he would pay them off completely. He loved children and family above all else, to be surrounded by family was one of his greatest pleasures. He always made sure that any babies that came along would get spoonfuls of coffee and collard green pot-liquor while sitting on his lap. He was kind, fair, stern, respectful, loyal, faithful, and true to his word. He was first and foremost an American, he loved his country and would tear up when the national anthem was played. His blood was that of a southerner. He loved this region of the country to his dying day. He took pride in anything southern. I still get chills whenever I hear a slow version of Dixie being played. He was a voracious reader and was the smartest man I ever knew. He went to the same church for over forty years, was a deacon and Sunday school teacher and sometimes would preach from the pulpit. He loved his wife and respected her, he never gave her fits about anything she wanted to do. He kept his word, and he kept his faith...

Now, that's what he was, that's where he came from and how he lived. Lean in a bit closer and let me tell you a few other things about him...

He had a temper.... To quote his brother, Donald.. "Delmos was a mean SOB when we was coming up.. He would just as soon shoot you as look at you when we were kids..." He would get mad and come after you in a split second if you did anything wrong. When his hair would drop down in front and hang over his eye you knew to get the hell away from him.... He could deliver a spanking like you wouldn't believe... He would start yelling and running around, it was a fearsome sight. So you towed the line when you were a kid buddy.. you did not want any of that... If you heard the dreaded statement, "Go cut me a switch..." you were doomed, and you knew it.

He loved the ladies.... He was one of the biggest flirts I have ever met. The women that worked with him would do anything he wanted. He never wasted a chance to chat up a pretty girl. Indeed.. he flirted with my wife before I even met her, and hundreds of times after we were married...

He loved hunting and guns... He was the best shot with a handgun or rifle I've ever met. He could fish and hunt without batting an eye. When I was a kid I would watch him field dress a deer or gut a fish in quick order and then flinch when he would turn my way, hand me a knife and say, "Now you do it.. just like I did.." Not a deer season went by that he didn't meet his limit.

He had a passion for loud noises... Whether it was wiring up loudspeakers to blast Cherokee music down through the woods from his shop, building a cannon to fire off at ungodly hours, wiring in a horn that played Dixie on his car, singing as loudly as he could, setting off fireworks, or simply creating explosions for no reason, you always knew where he was around the house.

He loved to argue.... He knew everything, so most times he won any debate or argument.

He was a history buff.... He knew the history of human civilization like an encyclopedia. He could tell you in detail about every battle that America fought in every war we were ever in. He could answer every question on jeopardy without even looking up from his crossword puzzle. He could recite the Declaration of Independence word for word.

He was meticulous... You never went to a yard sale, flea market, or bookstore with the man unless you planned to be there all day. He had to physically put his hands on everything there. He knew the truck schedules for big lots and would buy anything if it was a good deal, whether he needed it or not.

He could cuss a blue streak... I've heard him rip loose with a line of obscenities you simply wouldn't believe a human could be capable of.

He was a prankster.. He loved practical jokes and didn't mind going that extra mile to achieve his goal. He once set it up so that he & his brother Donald would appear to fight at a cookout, then he would pull a starter pistol and seem to shoot Donald dead in front of everyone. It worked perfectly... much to the detriment of his behind when his dad found out...

He was a man of extremes.. He would tear up over anything emotional. He would hold his honor and character close. He expected everyone to do right by him and he treated people in kind. If he felt he was cheated he wouldn't hesitate to speak out about it, whether or not he was wrong.

He loved to tell stories... He could keep an audience captive as long as he wanted to, hold them in his hands and take them wherever he felt like going. A powerful speaker, he never missed an opportunity to use this gift. He was plainspoken and would speak the same to everyone, be it a president or a child.

His mind was sharp and his charm evident at all times... I always thought that it was a good thing that he was an honorable man, because he could have given the devil himself a run for his money if he had the inclination..

He was a man of catch phrases... He had one liners that you associated with him over the years and they never fail to make you think of him, especially when you find yourself using them... So if you ever hear us using one of these lines you know where it came from:

We'll all be killed!

Are you deaf?

Come here you good lookin' thing..

He's gone to Chicago...

Well, me and your mama didn't do it, so who broke it...

You can get anything clean with hot soapy water and an sos pad...

Get up! we got a lot to do today..

Boy, you just ain't right...

Hold what you got...

Keep this light on it so I can see what I'm doing...

Ya'll go outside...

Don't turn that channel, I was watching that! (usually when he was sound asleep)

Do it right the first time and I won't make you do it again...

You boys come here... I've got a little job for you to do...

I'll wear you to a frazzle...

So... there you are. You know a few more things about him. Never forget the most important thing about him though... He loved his family. Rest assured, if he could be here with you all this Father's Day, as he was in his prime, he would be right here in the center of this group letting you jump all over him and wrestle with him until he wore you all out. Then he would take you for a ride in the woods that would scare the hell out of you... "I think we can make it through there, no problem..." He would line up cans in the back yard and teach you all how to shoot at them, while making sure you knew exactly how to handle a gun correctly. He would keep you all laughing so hard through lunch that you would forget to eat, then he would get in more trouble than you would, saying, "Yes ma'am" when scolded, then shooting you a quick wink. He would watch a John Wayne movie with you and tell you all about playing cowboys when he was a kid. Then he would take you all out for ice cream and a ride around town, you would be in the back of a truck and he would make sure to go really fast over a few hills, and he would let you sit up on the sides or on the tailgate... Then he would round off the day by sitting around a fire outside with you telling you the most glorious stories you would ever hear about playing as a kid. All the while he would teach you things without you ever knowing he was doing it....

The man was a true master at living life.

Happy Father's Day dad.. I miss and love you.

6 comments:

Rob Cole said...

You know, honestly, and I do truly mean this, every time that I read your memories of your dad, I can't help but cry. The odd thing, Clay, is that, while some are tears of sadness, most are for the glimpses of time that I spent with him too.

I realize just how fortunate I was... I am, to be so close to all of you. Well hell, as Southerners go, we are related.. at least by marriage (or the flow of water downstream).

Delmos Perry was a magical man. I can't remember the number of times that I said to you, "your dad just HAS to be a reincarnated Southern General.. everything about him is historic, powerful and John Wayne.."

He was magical. In a way that only young boys could appreciate. He shot guns, "tinkered with stuff", blew things up and helped us pull pranks on each other. He let us be boys, then young men. He treated ALL of us as his children, not just you and your brothers and sister. He didn't mince words, but was fair and kind.

The greatest thing about your dad, for me, was that no matter what we did or how well we THOUGHT we hid it.. he knew. He knew, but wanted us to experience life in OUR terms.. oh, he made up for it.. WE ALL had chores to do at your house. But, my dearest friend, you know I would give anything to relive every moment of everyday that we had during those times.

So, from a friend and a "branch-kin" relative, happy father's day, Delmos, "Uncle De-moss" as I called you... You sir, were a Statesman.. and your legacy lives on in so many.

HeartofGoldPlate said...

I go through phases with different Grandaddy memories. Right now my favorite (although it was embarrassing at the time) was when he first met Jon. Jon took pride in his family being Southern, and I joked he was a Southern Gentleman. Grandaddy talked to him for two minutes, found out he was born in IL and said "Oh, so you're not really southern" :D

That man could see through bullshit and I envy and admire him for it.

Junebug said...

Well done Clay!
I sat here reading this with tears running down my face.
Your dad was the perfect southern gentlemen.
When he told you stories everyone listened,nobody got bored or fell asleep.I remember hearing him say a lot of the things you wrote.
We miss him too.
He is always in your heart Clay.You will always find him there.
xo

Kayla or Gary said...

Oh man there are so many memories I have of Uncle Delmos but the one that sticks out the most for me is...Tristan's first birthday party. He ran late for it and came in right as we were singing. Granny had Tristan setting on the table infront of the cake. Of course he was dying to get his hands in it and granny wouldn't let him. Uncle Delmos tapped granny on the shoulder so she would have to take her attention off Tristan and as soon as she turned around to see who was behind her, he grabbed Tristan's hands and just squished the cake. Granny felt like killing him but we all got a good laugh. The look on his face after that was priceless!
Happy Father's Day, Clay!

Keith Tompkins said...

Clay,
Everytime I begin to read one of your blogs, I cannot stop. You, sir, are a fantastic writer...and I enjoyed reading about your father. It sounds like he was a fantastic man that, at the end of the day, loved his family and wanted to do the right things by them and by his fellow man...and those are 2 of the 3 things that really matter in this short life...things that he, as you put it, "mastered"...things that we all should strive to master.
Happy Father's Day.
-Keith Tompkins

Matt-Man said...

Well done. I would have loved to have met your Dad. I dig eveything yoy have just written about him. Cheers Clay!!