This article appeared in the Sunday, June 21, 2015, issue of The Lawrence County Advocate:

Daddy with Claire
Daddy with Claire

Recently, my cousins came to town for what we call our First Cousins’ Reunion. We gather on our grandparents’ “home place” front yard, catch up on our lives, and reminisce. This year, my cousin, Bill, was particularly nostalgic about his Uncle Malcolm, who died in 1989. He said long before I was born, Uncle Malcolm Weathers nurtured his nieces and nephews as if he had a stake in their upbringing. He spent time with them, popping them in the backseat of his sedan alongside his big black doctor’s bag as he went on house calls around the county. I asked if they waited in the car during the visit. He said that no, they were brought right inside, front and center, to take part in the conversations that would eventually take place. He would proudly introduce them, mentioning a special quality or talent in each one. As they grew, he gave them jobs on the farm or in the drug store or hospital. He pushed them into college and careers, oftentimes working behind the scenes for their acceptance and funding. He took on the role of their mentor, and he loved them as his own.

I smiled as I listened to Bill talk about my father, his Uncle Malcolm. This man he was describing was the daddy who gave his own children the same experiences later in life. Even in the busiest part of his day, if any of us slipped in the backdoor of his office, he would catch sight of us through the open examining room door and prod us front and center for the patient in the room.

“This is my son. Can you believe he wears size 12 shoes?”

“This is my daughter. She just sang a solo in the school Christmas play.”

On and on. Throughout our childhoods. Our house calls involved listening to his 8-track tapes of Tchaikovsky or Chopin, our groans ignored as we drove throughout the county. We watched him cure the sick with his deft hands while solving farming issues and talking lespedeza and clover. Now I live on my own farm and wish I could ask him about that lespedeza that might just bring back our quail. I want to tell him that I, too, love classical music and speak out for causes that he held so dear. Only the world has changed, and he would hardly recognize it. I can navigate it, though, because a kind man with vision raised me to do so. My daddy-o.

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