Living with a Purpose
As stated in my profile, my father has been the biggest inspiration in my life, mainly because he always remained consistent in everything he ever did. Throughout my life, he has guided me and educated me on making the right choices. While I may have made some stumbles along the way, I have realized that everything he ever told me was the correct way to go about doing things. It wasn't till the end of my father's life that I realized he knew what was best for me, because he had already lived in my shoes. We were so much alike and I regret not realizing that earlier in life. I am going to share with you the remarkable story of my father - how he overcame great obstacles that I have never heard of anyone else doing.
When my father was in college, he was just going to get some form of education. He decided he wanted to go into art. My dad grew up reading comic books and I think this inspired his love or art and artwork. His favorite comic book series was the Amazing Spider-man, created by Stan Lee, who single handedly revived Marvel Comics Inc.. I secretly believe my father aspired to be a comic book artist because I would always see him sketching comic book super heroes and funny cartoons. He would even draw up new characters and give them names. I think the main thing that dissuaded him from pursuing that dream was the difficulty in career survival and eventual work location. He was a hometown guy and was satisfied staying right in the county limits for the remainder of his life. He had no desire to move to a big city to be an artist. His curiosity led him to participate in pottery making classes. Before you know it he was making beautiful sculptures and creative face mugs and jugs, as he called them. The college hosted a sophomore art sell each year and with the money that he made at the art sell he bought his first pottery kick wheel.
After college he married my mother, whom he met there. The two started off married life, as many do, with little money. While my mother took a job at a local bank, he went to work at a furniture factory overnights. Soon after that he went to work for my grandfather at a wood yard until the economy got bad and the wood yard had to close down. Soon after he was able to work at a local wood yard close to where they lived, but when work opportunity played out there he had to go into job search mode. The economy in this small town was still bad then. He moved on to work another factory job, that he despised and soon left. He practiced making pottery in his off time during this period, perfecting his skills
Without enough money to buy a kiln to fire his pottery, my father could not yet make a living off of pottery that he was making so he had to find another job. A friend of the family kept approaching my mother at the bank where she worked, asking if he would like a job in the jewelry making/repair business. Persistently the man finally called my father and offered him a job and he took it. The man taught him everything he knew about making and repairing jewelry and my father picked up from there. He became an expert jeweler and soon was able to make beautiful rings and necklaces. After working there a few years I can remember people asking him if he could fix their jewelry. I even had teachers at school asking me to take things home sometimes. I can't recall if I ever did. Most likely I forgot their request before I even got home, as jewelry repair wasn't a key topic on my mind for some reason.Soon after starting to work at the jewelry store he was able to purchase his first kiln for firing his pottery, but he needed a place to make his pottery. I don't know if you, the reader, know how hot kilns get or the chemical fumes they put off, but they aren't really something you want in your household. My grandfather had several logs from an old log cabin that my great grandfather had. One day my dad approached my grandmother about the logs. She said if you will do something with them, I will pay for the roof and foundation for it. So he embarked on making a log cabin right in our own front yard. He also acquired part of an old log cabin from a friend and hired a guy to help him tow those logs to our house. The two cabins, however, had different notch patterns so he had to renotch every single log. With just the help of my mother, he formed a log cabin that has become the landmark of where our house is. Everyone that has ever been in it loves it. Soon he was able to make and sell his pottery at arts and crafts festivals across Mississippi. He took this skill and made a living off of it in a small town in the state of Mississippi. People have traveled from hours away just to pick through pottery that he made. This, however, wasn't his only source of income.
While working at the jewelry store, my father was also working as a janitor at a local high school and also attending arts and crafts festivals during festival season. At one point in his career, he was actually selling pottery faster than he could make it. That's when he recruited us kids into helping making it. I was around 9 or 10 years old at the time so I was doing the rather easy tasks as in cutting out ornaments, mixing glazes and cutting pottery off of the slabs. Never the less, I did learn how to make pottery over time. He taught me how to turn pottery and do different designs on it.
He spent most of his Saturdays and Sundays with my mother and their friends. They would go to each others' houses every other Sunday and have what most call jam sessions. The preacher that baptized my father taught him how to play the guitar and banjo. I can remember sitting in during these sessions when I was little and enjoying the music. Sure these skills may not seem like much to some of you, but I haven't quite revealed to you the whole story yet. When only 20 years old my father caught a case of strep throat, which is what he swore started his demise. Soon after that he started to notice his legs swelling. He went to a doctor about it and was diagnosed with kidney disease. He was prescribed cortisone at that point. After supposing that the doctor didn't know what he was talking about, my father continued to live life as if nothing was wrong. Just 8 years later, 1 month after I was born, his kidneys failed and he had to begin dialysis. During this short period he was too weak to perform the work he had been doing so he stayed home, caring for a 1 and 3 year old. Luckily he was selected to get a kidney transplant no more than 5 months after his kidneys had failed, which is extremely rare, as nowadays one may go years without getting one.
Unfortunately the transplanted kidney failed within time and he was forced to go back on dialysis, which he stayed on for the remainder of his life. About 8 years after getting the transplant he started to have trouble standing up. He called my mother home from work one day because he sensed something wasn't right. Later that night he calmly said to my mother, "Call them." He was going into shock. He was admitted to the hospital soon after and came to find out that the reason for these troubles was because of fluid build up around his heart and lungs. It was so compressed that his left lung collapsed completely. The doctor's drained over 3 liters of fluid from around his heart. This episode affected him the worse out of all his illnesses over his life because it put him in a wheelchair. The doctors told him that due to damage in the nerves in his legs that he would never be able to walk again. Can you imagine being 37 years old and told that you will never walk again?
I can honestly say if this were me in that situation, I probably
would've just given up and took my disability check, but not my father. My
dad started to work on standing up again. He would take his wheel chair
behind the couch and pull himself up with his arms until he was
standing. He did this every day. Apparently he did it several times a
day while I was at school. He added taking steps while holding onto the
back of the couch. After that we decided we have to get him a walker.
"This stubborn man is gonna walk again." We got him a walker,
and he used it for about 2 or 3 months. I want everyone to know that we
medically and scientifically was never supposed to be able to walk again
because of the nerve damage suffered in his legs. After using the
walker a few months he bought a cheap $5 cane from a value store. He
started using it to walk with and before you know it he was able to walk
hills and stairs. He still had balance troubles but managed very well.
He had a routine check up at the facility where he had dialysis every week and ran into a doctor while there. The doctor was one of the doctors that said he would never walk again. After seeing how well he was getting around, he was amazed. They decided to do an article in the newspaper, proclaiming that it was a medical miracle. For a man who wasn't supposed to ever walk again, he was pictured standing on one leg holding both arms out for balance.
After regaining his ability to walk again, my dad hopped right back into his old routine as if nothing ever happened. The man never seemed to stop running. 3 years later my mother awoke to a loud noise to find my father lying on the floor. He seemed to be having a heart attack. It was about 2 am when everything went down. My mother was on the phone with 911, holding a rag on my dad's forehead and aiming a fan towards him. I can remember being woken to hop into my rain boots and shorts and go to the entrance of the drive in the rain to hold a flashlight so the ambulance could locate our house.The ambulance took him to the hospital and he was admitted. After reviving, the doctor's couldn't figure out what may have caused this. So they came up with a brilliant idea. Let's let him have one of these spells again before we do anything or let him go. WHAT? REALLY? Their idea worked though. Soon enough my father had another episode just like the previously stated one. Only this time he died. Clear.... nothing. Clear.... nothing. Clear..... Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep. After 3 hits with the defibrillators my father's life was restored. He had heart arrhythmia. They did open heart surgery on him and placed an artificial valve into his heart and also a mini defibrillator in his upper chest, should he have another spell. He was 41 at the time.
Our family all knew that we had been blessed to have him as long as we did. I can remember asking him how long would he be satisfied living, knowing that he had already beaten the odds on several occasions. His answer to my question was, "I would like to see my kids graduate and become adults." While going for a routine blood check one day, the nurses obviously saw something irregular. They would not reveal what was so important, but said that he had to go to the emergency room immediately. It was later revealed that the irregularity was staph in his blood stream. My father was hospitalized on March 8th, 2006. My soon to be wife and I went to visit him on my 21rst birthday, March 11th, 2006. We played cards, talked about our upcoming marriage and about when he thought he was going to be able come home. We said goodbye for the night and I started to walk towards the door. I felt a terrible feeling, leaving him so I turned around, walked back up to my father, hugged him and said, "I love you dad." On March 12th 2006 I received a call from my mother, who was by his side at the hospital this whole time, saying I needed to get to the hospital because my father has went into shock. I can remember going as fast as my truck would literally go, risking my life as well as others with reckless speed driving, but for some reason one doesn't acknowledge that when faced with a loved one's possible death. About 30 minutes after the first call from my mother, I received a second. "He's gone." To all the doctors in the world, "I do not want your job." I can't imagine how hard it must be to tell a room full of loved ones that their father, son, brother, husband has died.
So that's the story of my father, a man who definitely kept going when nobody would have blamed him for giving up.
"What have you done with your life so far?"
Things that made it hard
There is so much that I didn't share throughout the story, because it would have drawn attention away from main points. But there is so much more to his ailments than the ones listed above.
Can you imagine coming off of the football field because your father had fallen down? Always being on guard so you could try to catch him if you were in a shopping center? These things are hard to live with, because I never wanted my father to fall in public. He was a proud man. Once a mighty man, silenced by the force of nature. Also seeing your father hurt every minute of the day isn't easy. When you are around someone that is hurting all the time, it is almost impossible for you to show pain. When you do, you feel ignorant, because the man next to you is in 3 times as much pain, constantly. There's so much more.
This was the last photo taken of him just a few months before he passed away. At the funeral I saw virtually everyone that I had ever known. I can't imagine what it would make a person feel like if they were showed that much care by so many people while they were alive. I saw relatives there that I had not seen for years and people that lived a ways off. I can't think of one person that knew him that did not come to his visitation. Throughout my life, I have never heard anybody say a bad thing about my father. I hope so much to be loved as much as he was by our small community.
Here are some pieces of pottery that look a lot like the ones my father used to make. They are great for decoration or Christmas dinners. You can even cook out of these and put them in the oven. Pottery had many uses.
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