NOTE – I found this post in my WordPress Drafts. I have a couple hundred drafts – unfinished thoughts, things I could not share at the time, things I just could not finish. But going through those drafts today I found this one, and decided, now 5 years later, to publish it. It should be noted that my father is still making this trip every year – delivering on his promise of a turkey. I have a lot of respect for that.
I didn’t ask why. My Dad is 75 and he can make his own decisions. He is taking care of himself, and still travels the country in his Toyota Camry.
The truth is, my father was not coming to visit me. When he sold his ranch in South Texas and moved to Arkansas, he forgot to do something that was important to him – and he wanted to come back to South Texas and take care of it.
My mother was a florist at a regional privately owned grocery chain (HEB). She worked there for years – most of the time at a small store in Alice, Texas. When my mother passed away they actually closed the store for a while and held a memorial in the parking lot, where they dedicated the store in her memory. There is a nice small monument in stone at the entrance with my mother’s name on it.
Many, many customers came to the ceremony as well. Although I was in Hawaii at the time, and couldn’t get back in time for the ceremony, I heard it was very moving. HEB was wonderful to my father during this time. They medically retired my mother so some benefits would accelerate, even after her death. They also promised my father a free Thanksgiving Turkey for life.
My father always collected the turkey and gave it to a local church. After moving to Arkansas he forgot all about the small Parish that had become used to his turkey donation every year – so he came back to collect one more turkey and deliver it to the Parish – letting them know not to depend on him in the future. He is getting older, and lives tens of hours away. From my understanding they were very grateful.
But my dad didn’t come to visit me – he stopped by, and dropped some stuff off for me to deliver to my brothers. He didn’t spend the night even – just a quick stop and go.
He felt he had a commitment to meet, and he met it.
He felt an obligation where he had no obligation – yet he wanted to make sure that the Parish wasn’t expecting him, or depending on him for their Thanksgiving dinner.
I’m sorry my father asked me to keep quiet about his visit. I didn’t ask him why. I didn’t consider it my business – he is a grown up. But I am glad I got to at least spend a couple hours with him today. He’s a very decent man and does more for people than he wants people to know. For at least 40 years he has donated a significant amount of money to an Indian Orphanage. Not many people know that about him.
Like all people, some see my Father and think of the bad they can find, or the flaws in his character. I realize I have my own flaws, yet I have never given as much as he has. I’ve never driven 18 hours out of my way to fulfill a hopeful expectation. It’s the kind of thing he does without even telling anyone – because to him it’s just personal. And it’s only meaningful to him.
And to those of us willing to learn from him, and love him for who he is – imperfections and all.