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Unlocking The Past

Updated on October 13, 2015

My Father, The Man I Have Come To Understand

There is so much in our lives as children which we do not understand. In my case, the most bewildering was my father.

The pastor, at his funeral, spoke of him as being a "tough love." The man, as I knew him when a child, was just that. I spent the first twenty years of my life trying, in vain I felt, to please him and the next twenty-four years running from the memory.

How does someone explain to a young girl what kept her father from holding her, why he could never show the pride he felt in her accomplishments, or say "I love you," openly? I understand, now, that he was never given these things during his childhood and just didn't know how to show his emotions as an adult. He could not talk about what he was really feeling inside, even when he was hurting. He had erected an imaginary wall around his emotions to keep them safe, many years before I knew him.

By the time I was in my forties, I had given up any hope of our relationship improving. But I was soon to find out that God was not finished with us.

In 1995, my father was diagnosed with Terminal Cancer, with only a few weeks left of life on this earth. When I received the news, though I hadn't seen him in five years, I immediately packed and traveled from Florida to South Carolina, to my parent's home.

As soon as I arrived, he asked me if I would consider staying for several weeks to help my mother, who was, by this time, very tired from caring for him. I was pleased to help but bewildered, as well, that he had ask. However, in the days that followed, God opened doors for each of us that we had nailed shut years before.

My father and I spent hours actually talking and, more important, listening to each other. Any real communication had been non-existent between us for as long as I could remember. He told me so many things I wish he had shared with me during my childhood because it would have helped me to understand him, before so many years had been wasted.

For the first time in my life, I was able to say to him, "I love you," and truly feel the glow of it. I was able to hug him and forget my tears.

And, to my astonishment, he was able to do the same. With tears in his eyes, he told me how much he loved me and how important I had always been to him. At that moment, I saw the attempts he had made, which I had missed, during those early years. I could see the things he had done for me out of love and understand, as an adult, what I had been unable to comprehend as a child.

I will always long for the joy that forty-four years of silence took from our lives but I thank God for the last three weeks of my father's life. I thank Him for the sleepless nights of worry, for the sore muscles from lifting his weight when he was too weak to help me, for the time spent holding his hand, and the look in his eyes, though he couldn't speak, as he recognized me and knew I was still there. I am thankful for the memory etched in my mind of the feel of his hair as I ran my fingers through it and even the memories and smells of his passing that stay with me. And I am most thankful for the love God was finally able to explain to me when I was ready to listen.

There were no tears in my eyes at the funeral for I had shed them years before. All that was left that day was the joy of finally having really known my father and for the chance I was given to unlock the door to both our hearts and allow each to be filled with memories to be cherished.

God is there to give what is needed, in His own time.

(Postscript: My father died of Cancer on April 18, 1995, at the age of 69.)

"Death leaves a heartache no one can heal; love leaves a memory no one can steal."

From a headstone in Ireland

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"IT IS YOU, I WANT TO SEE"

by Eugenia S. Hunt

A father always sees himself

With strength and solid stance.

A world to conquer piece by piece,

Having answers in advance,

To all the needs along the way

That face his family,

From lifting high his child in play

To how the world should be.

But, Daddy, walk slower, please

And give me time to know,

The person deep inside the man,

The one you never show.

I want to see the man who loves

Me more than life itself.

Take a moment from your day

To lift him from the shelf.

Let me see deep down inside

Where no one else can see,

The world within that heart of yours

So, like him, I can be.

The one who loves me more than self,

Who hurts to see me cry,

The man who smiles within himself

Just watching me walk by.

Don't be afraid for me to see,

I need to know him well.

You see, some day, I'll need his strength,

My child, I have to tell,

How to walk along her path

Holding her father's hand,

So she will see within his heart

His love to understand.

A father always sees himself

With strength and solid stance.

A world to conquer piece by piece,

Having answers in advance.

But, just this once, dear father,

Reveal yourself to me.

Just this once, let down your guard,

For it is you, I want to see.

(Photo: My father and our family companion, Patsy)

As A Young Man

Finding Himself

Men of my father's day sometimes had difficulty relating to their loved ones because they were brought up in difficult times, as children. They had to be tough to survive.

Growing up in the small town of Maysville, Georgia, the second child of four, my Father was a young boy during the depression. He had to quit school in the fifth grade to work on their farm to help the family. During the summer, he would hunt rabbit to sell their pelts. He also searched for bicycle parts, rebuilding old bicycles to sell for extra money.

At the age of seventeen, he enlisted in the Navy, pretending to be 18, so that they would take him. After World War II, where he was in charge of the big guns aboard the USS Washington, he served under Admiral Byrd. He was aboard ship for Admiral Byrd's second trip to the Antarctic in 1946-47 called Operation Highjump, officially titled The United States Navy Antarctic Developments Program. He was so very proud to be a part of their amazing discoveries of the south pole.

BRINGING UP FATHER

When I was a child of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.

Mark Twain

The Life He Lived

Who Was He?

Ed Sims...This was it...his entire name...six letters. I used to tease my grandmother that Daddy only got one name because Uncle Billy was only 22 months old when Daddy was born...she didn't have time for more than one name!

Daddy was the kind of man whom you could always count on. If he gave his word, nothing could keep him for keeping that promise to you. He took pride in always paying his bills on time and never purchased on credit. He believed in paying cash and, if he didn't have cash, then he waited to purchase until he did.

My father worked very hard all his life and was a phenomenal financial supporter of our family. This was how he showed his love for us. Now, as an adult, I know this to be true.

His belief in God was evident in the way he lived his life and the values he instilled in his family.

Frills were never his way. Things in his life were always kept basic. However, he did love a pretty automobile!

Loving to tell a good joke, you could hear laughter surrounding him whenever he found himself in a crowd or even with just two or three friends.

I remember how much he loved to talk and I find I have inherited that same gift of gab. At times, this can be very difficult to channel. I, too, delight in the laughter of others.

When I think back over the years, I realize he raised me to think like a man. I sometimes tell people that I was my "father's only son." I know, it makes them laugh, too, but there is a great deal of truth in the statement.

He was a very intelligent man whose lack of education always bothered him. He had to quit school after the fifth grade to help support the family during the depression. However, I found him to be far more intelligent than some of those known to have a great deal of "book learning." Common sense was the basis of his knowledge, common sense coupled with life.

Daddy was a Man's Man and they were a tough breed, becoming scarce as the years pass. But they were good men who raised good kids and I am proud to be one of those good kids. I am proud that he was my father.

TO MY FATHER

It matters not that Time has shed

His thawless snow upon your head,

For he maintains, with wondrous art,

Perpetual summer in your heart.

William Hamilton Hayne

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Who Is Mom To The Zoo?

My Bio

Born in the small town of Pendleton, South Carolina, in 1950, I was the oldest of two, five years my sister's senior. It was a wonderful place to grow up where the entire town raised its children. I was always surrounded by people who loved and looked out for me. I graduated from High School with the same people who were in my kindergarten class. At 58, my childhood friends are still my friends. I feel so fortunate to have known such a childhood.

After college, I worked at Clemson University until May 1972. At that time, I married and lived in Glyfada, 22 miles from Athens, Greece for two years...via USAF. We then moved to North Dakota for another two years before returning to South Carolina.

We divorced after 16 years and two children. I married my best friend two years later and moved to Florida in 1988 and together we have raised my husband's son and daughter and my son and daughter...one federal officer, one pastor's wife, one sixth grade school teacher, and the other, after working for Florida Power and Light since age 19, is now with AT&T. In 1996, I adopted my stepdaughter. We are blessed with four grandsons and one granddaughter.

In 1999, we became foster parents with the Children's Home Society and had a number of children under our roof in the next 5 years. In 2001, we adopted a 13 year old girl, whom we first met at the age of 11, and is now 21. I also have spent more time in a courtroom than I care to think about, fighting for the rights of the children in our care. In 2004, I turned in my license so that I could be a full time Mom to our special needs daughter and keep our infant granddaughter five days a week while her mother was teaching.

Bill, my husband, is a retired USAF Air Traffic Controller. He is now working out of the country, on Ascension Island, with Computer Science Raytheon, as their chief controller, contracted out of Patrick AFB, Florida. This enables him to continue to do the job he loves, air traffic, and aid the military. He flies in and out on furlough and I handle things here at home. I jokingly call myself a Single Married Woman.

Actually, I am a retired Accountant/Credit Manager, now a housewife, where I enjoy writing, singing, piano, and sewing. I have had numerous poems and short stories published and have sung in churches and for church organizations for years, as well as weddings, a couple of variety shows, and even at my daughter's, and later my son's, weddings, one of the hardest things I have EVER done. We are members of a Baptist church where I am a soloist and sing in the choir. I am also a member of the Women's Bible Study Group and work on the Mission's Committee.

And, last but not least, we have two singing dogs. Raven is a thirteen year old Skipperkee/Chow with bucked teeth and attitude and Whisper, our nine pound poodle, who thinks himself a Doberman.

I have been Mom To The Zoo since the morning after our wedding. My friend, Lee, who was staying with our four children and two dogs answered the phone from a sound sleep, "Hunt Zoo, Zookeeper Speaking."

My life has involved many changes and avenues that I would never have dreamed of and has given me challenges that I never thought I was equal to. But, I have found that God has a plan and, if you follow His lead, you can handle anything he puts in your hands. However, you have to first learn to listen to Him. No matter what we want from life, it must come in His time. He has given my husband and me more than we could have began to imagine back in high school and we have found that what we thought was so important for our futures back then was nothing to what we have done so far. At 58, I have learned from our foster children, to look forward to the future and the next challenge with enthusiasm and excitement. If they can trust and love us after what the world has dealt them, we can surely tackle whatever lies ahead with ease. Life is a series of learning experiences and I continue to find life to be both a challenge and a joy which grows with each passing year. I learn more and more about myself with each passing day!

Jeanie

We all have memories worth sharing with someone else. You will be surprised at how many will relate to your story and want to add theirs. It is good to remember and share!

So, below, rather than telling me how much you liked my lens, tell me about your father in dedication of this Father's Day 2009! He deserves it!!

Father's Day Memories - Tell Me About Your Memories Of Your Father

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      Peggy Genzer 16 months ago

      Your story about your father as I remember him very well was told just like he was. I do remember those Sunday afternoons in the living room with the cat on the piano and going back an forth to the kitchen to get something, your dad would always tease me to the fullest and I loved it.

      Love you Peggy

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      Eugenia S. Hunt 4 years ago

      @Lorelei Cohen: There is so much which I now understand that I so wish I had understood while he was living...so much I need to say to him. Maybe, someday, I will get that opportunity.

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      Lorelei Cohen 4 years ago from Canada

      My father passed away quite a few years ago now. He was an eternal optimist and always a little kid at heart. Our fathers truly do shape our lives in many ways that we do not understand till much later in our life.

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      Eugenia S. Hunt 4 years ago

      @Michey LM: Thank you, Michey...

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      Michey LM 4 years ago

      Great story, and glad I come to read again.

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      Eugenia S. Hunt 4 years ago

      @sittonbull: Thanks, John!

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      sittonbull 4 years ago

      Great revisit.

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      Eugenia S. Hunt 4 years ago

      @Virginia Allain: Virginia, I am sure he knew...you were his daughter. Even though Daddy couldn't say it, he showed me in so many ways ... and in the end, told me ... but it took Morphine to release those words. They were just raised to think that men don't show their emotions. I raised my son to know his love is very important to everyone around him. Because of that, he is just like my father,(so like my father) except he is able to say I love you and hugs those he loves often. :)

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      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      I always felt a distance that I did not know how to bridge between my father and myself. In his later years, his hearing problem made it even harder to communicate. How I wish I'd done more with my writing to let him know I cared.

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      Eugenia S. Hunt 4 years ago

      @Michey LM: Thank you, Michey...and you are welcome! :)

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      Michey LM 4 years ago

      When we are very young we have some problems understanding the adults around us. You explain so well your personal experience, it is touching, full of wisdom, and make me think about my own family.

      Thanks for opening the personal door of life in all of us.

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      Eugenia S. Hunt 5 years ago

      @sittonbull: Isn't that the truth! :) And it always amazes me at just how smart my parents have become over the years...my father continues to do so even after his own death! LOL My son, Chad, who was only 15 when Daddy died, loves to hear my stories of him and the way he would say things...Daddy had his own way of expressing himself! LOL And Chad is so very much like my father with a huge business sense and sense of fairness and right from wrong. Unlike Daddy, however, Chad is not afraid to say I love you or admit to the need of help from his wife as they walk together. Daddy would be so very proud of the man he has become. And I am proud of the man whom I called my father...rough edges and all! :) Thanks for sharing!

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      Donnette Davis 6 years ago from South Africa

      A sadly touching story and a wonderful tribute.

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      sittonbull 5 years ago

      Jeanie you have such a talented gift for writing and for articulately speaking from the heart. What you have said here so beautifully is, I think a difficult to improve upon version of, what so many men and women of our generation have felt and searched for ways to express. Men in our parents generation were, more often than not, Men's men... and brought up to think it "unmanly" to express their deepest feelings in words. I have often heard friends try to articulate the need to hear "I love you" from their Dad. Some of them knew it, but never heard it... some, like you, thankfully heard it towards the end,... some wear the lifelong scars of never having either one. My dad was a man's man too, a tough, but fair disciplinarian, and it wasn't easy for him to say it either, but I think Mama probably hammered him into submission. He (and Mama) both did give us the greatest gift a parent can give...the knowledge early on that, while they taught us the right way...whatever we did... whether we made them proud or disappointed them... it would not change the fact that they loved us unconditionally. Gene and I were pretty rebellious, slow to learn and abounding in steadfast hard headedness! Finally we did learn the truth the hard way... of Mark Twain's famous quote... along with the truth of how great was is gift of unconditional love. When Beth came along, she must've been God's gift to Mama & Dad for having to raise us two boys :>). Amazing how much retrospective learning we do when we become parents ourselves. ;>)

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      Eugenia S. Hunt 6 years ago

      @donnetted: Thank you, Donnette. Daddy was a very closed personality...unfortunately, he didn't allow me in until just before he died. However, as an adult, I can see why he was as he was and understand him better than I could as a child. I knew he loved us by the way he took care of us but little girls need to hear the words from their father. He didn't know how to say them so he gave in other ways instead. Thank you for sharing him with me today.

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      Eugenia S. Hunt 6 years ago

      @myneverboredhands: Thank you for continuing to read and sharing my father with me. It is special to me that you also shared your father with me. I think Dad's are pretty much the same...they love their children but they want them to be strong and stand on their own. We are very fortunate to have two sons and three daughters and they are all strong and able to handle their lives as adults with strength and passion for living!

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      myneverboredhands 6 years ago

      Thanks again for a wonderful story of your life. I like your lens... It's reminded me my father in some way... He doesn't show any emotion or his love to us, his daughters, but for his only son...because he consider us as strong and able to survive without it, and his son as unlucky and weak, that is why he always support him only.. For a pretty long time I wasn't able to understand his behavior, and was sure he doesn't love us. But I know now that he does and always did, he simply didn't show it...

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      Nancy Tate Hellams 6 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Back to this great lens to leave you a Squid Angel Blessing on my last day as an Angel

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      Eugenia S. Hunt 7 years ago

      @Michey-sq: Thank you, Michey! I do miss him very much...there are so many things I would like to tell him and talk over with him the way I used to. It is a shame he left us at such a young age. Thanks for sharing him with me!

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      Michey-sq 7 years ago

      I read it one more time and I really like your father, it is a classic examle of how much our childhood can influence us as adults.

      I like your gentile way of talking about him.

      Regards

      Michey

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      Eugenia S. Hunt 7 years ago

      @Joan4: Thank you, Joan...and thanks for the idea about Blue Mountain...I am definitely going to get busy and submit a few to see what happens. Like my mother always says, "You might as well. They can't eat 'cha!" LOL

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      Eugenia S. Hunt 7 years ago

      @Michey LM: Thank you so much, Michey...I'm so glad you enjoyed this. I decided to write the poem this weekend so that I could spruce this one up a bit for Father's Day! :)

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      Joan4 7 years ago

      Beautiful tribute to your dad and I love your poem. Lensrolling to Father's Day Presents!

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      Michey LM 7 years ago

      It is so beautiful and resonate with me as well.

      Thanks Jeanie, all your lenses have a human deep feeling, I love them all, I always like to come back and read again which is the proof of their value.

      Regards

      Michey

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      Eugenia S. Hunt 7 years ago

      @OhMe: Thanks, Nancy...just felt it needed something more.

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      Nancy Tate Hellams 7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Love your updates!

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      Eugenia S. Hunt 8 years ago

      [in reply to LoKackl] Lois, thank you for sharing your father with me. Wow! 97! How wonderful to have such a full life. I can understand how he might be difficult to know. I have a friend, John Calvert, who is 98 and very strong willed and determined...probably why he has lived so long. I adore him but I respect his space...safer that way! LOL I am glad you enjoyed my lens and I do hope it helped you in some way. I feel so fortunate in having those three weeks to get to know him before his death...he was only 69...such a shame. Jeanie

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      LoKackl 8 years ago

      Very helpful in a healing way. Though my Daddy of the same era and hard times probably couldn't help compounding problems with a not-so-man's-man personality. I, too, enjoyed being close the last three weeks of his life in 2007. He died at 97! I am still finding ways to love him through memories tinged with new understanding. In my case, I didn't know I loved him UNTIL I cried like a baby when he died and at the funeral. Too bad I only have 5 stars to give.

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      Eugenia S. Hunt 8 years ago

      Hi, Kevin. Thank you so much for sharing my father with me. I understand the similarity of our fathers. As I nursed my father those last three weeks of his life, he was a wonderful patient, never complaining once, though I know he was in dreadful pain. He accepted his fate, was right with the Lord, and gave me some much needed memories to hold onto after his death. Theirs was a generation of men who knew what it meant to be a man.

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      Spook LM 8 years ago

      It's uncanny how similar this is to my Dad. Running away to join the Royal Navy under age during the second World war. In Rhodesia he was captain of the club cricket side for 12 years and one night returning home in his car, he was hit by a drunk driver. Lucky to survive he ended up with his right arm fused at the elbow and wrist. So badly it was inoperable. He couldn't lift a glass to his lips or do his tie after that. Goodbye to cricket, so he played golf instead, albeit very badly. Amongst all the other things this made his life difficult. But what I really want to say, is that from the time this happened, until he died, I never heard him complain about this. Not once, not ever.

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      Eugenia S. Hunt 8 years ago

      [in reply to GrowWear] Thank you Mimi...after hearing your story, I know you know exactly what I meant in my lens.

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      GrowWear 8 years ago

      [in reply to Momtothezoo] So glad that fences could be mended for you as well. Your father was a real man -- especially after he let love be his guide. I know for certain the great love he had for you, his daughter.

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      Eugenia S. Hunt 8 years ago

      [in reply to puzzlemaker] Paige, thank you so much...I am so glad you are pleased with my lens. And I am glad you told me the story of your Dad. So many fathers go through a divorce and walk away from their children. It means to much to a little girl to know their father really loves them, no matter what. He was really a great Dad!

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      Eugenia S. Hunt 8 years ago

      [in reply to GrowWear] Mimi, thank you so much for sharing that with me. We both can understand why they were hardened. I am so glad we were both afforded the chance to love our fathers. I will always miss my Dad and I am so glad that I can say that!

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      puzzlerpaige 8 years ago

      How nice of you to ask about "dads". I think this is the best idea for a guest book I've ever written in.

      Well, mom and dad divorced when I was about 5 yo. My brother and I saw dad on the weekends. He wasn't the perfect person, but he loved me perfectly. He called me by phone almost everyday of my life to tell me just that...that he loved me. He remarried when I was 16 and we were still very close. But after his second marriage failed in 1987, he could not bear the grief and I lost him.

      He was so silly at times! I tell my own daughter that I get my silliness straight from my dad. He used to try to embarass me by holding his tie up to his nose in public. Yes, he really did this. How goofy is that? I carry on that tradition by being silly too - singing silly songs etc. with my daughter.

      Thanks for asking about my dad. And thanks for sharing your story of getting to know your dad and understanding him in his last days. Thank God for grace!

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      GrowWear 8 years ago

      My father was beaten with a mule whip if he didn't run the plow straight. He was a mean man by the time I came around. Somewhere along the line, he became himself -- a kind and loving father. I miss you, Daddy. Love from your proud daughter.

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      Eugenia S. Hunt 8 years ago

      [in reply to Mountainside-Crochet] I am so glad you enjoyed reading my thoughts, Patricia. Thank you for sharing your memories of your father...he sounds like a wonderful man. It is a shame both of them died at only 69...that is just too young!

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      Mountainside-Crochet 8 years ago

      Jeanie, thanks so much for sharing your dad with us. I'm so glad you finally got to 'know' him before it was too late. I know those memories of his last days with you will always be special to you.

      My dad was also a child of the depression, and had the added struggle of growing up in foster homes. He married very young - 17 - and struggled to support a family of 6 without much education. But he could do anything and everything and his wonderful sense of humor endeared him to everyone who knew him. He died too young - only 69 - in 1991, and to this day I miss him so much. He was a wonderful father - always had time, and much love, for his family, and was a very strong, well-grounded person who lent his strength, time, and caring to all who needed it. He was wise, witty, and wonderful, and the world was a better place for having had him in it. Thanks for sharing, and allowing me to share my love for my dad!

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      Eugenia S. Hunt 8 years ago

      [in reply to OhMe]Thanks, Nancy...I didn't put a lot of time into this one...just thinking out loud...not many visits so far...probably needs more work but I have few photos of Daddy here in Florida. Would like later to do a piece on Operation Highjump for him but need his photo album from my mother to do it.

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      Nancy Tate Hellams 8 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Beautifully written and such an important reminder to everyone to enjoy the time we have with our loved ones. My father passed away in 89 and I still miss him and so many wonderful memories. Well done!

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      Eugenia S. Hunt 8 years ago

      [in reply to Emily Nash] Thanks, Emily, I am glad you enjoyed it. I just wish I had figured him out a little sooner so that we could have had more time together. He was a difficult man to understand when I was growing up and the household was a little crazy with all of us and Gracie...so many different personalities traits that didn't mix very well. I guess you find that in all families. But he really taught me a lot and I am thankful for having known him. And he always called me a "Martin", too, and said I was just like Grace!! LOL Funny thing is I am really more like him with a mixture of Aunt Mae but he'd deny it!! LOL

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      anonymous 8 years ago

      Jeanie, I loved the story about your dad. I really did enjoy being around Ed. Like you said he loved telling jokes and loved kidding people which he did me. He would always kid me about being a "Martin" and I always told him how proud I was to be one. He loved your mom so much calling her "Mot". He was a good, hardworking man who did love his family and even "Gracie" although he aggravated him to no end.

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      Eugenia S. Hunt 8 years ago

      [in reply to Michey] Thank you, Michey...so glad you enjoyed hearing about Daddy. He was an unusual man and it has taken me a long time to figure him out. I just wish I had understood him sooner, before we lost so many years. But I am thankful for those last weeks.

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      Michey LM 8 years ago

      Jeanie, this is a very nice story and you are a very good physiologic mind, you have a talent to analyze: facts, actions, reactions, emotions and because of this you understand the human nature.

      You must be proud of your dad and any inheritance that came from him.

      I like a lot the story, thanks for shearing.

      Have a nice father's day in your beautiful family

      Regards

      Michey

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      Eugenia S. Hunt 8 years ago

      Thanks, Patsy...I'm glad you enjoyed the story...I know, I have his eyes for sure...and I think like him...as I said, my father's only son! LOL

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      anonymous 8 years ago

      Jeanie, I loved your story about your dad. I loved him, too. I can't believe how much you look like your dad. I must write a story about my dad also. You are a great writer.