• Charlsie Pecoraro

Happy Father's Day! Things I Learned from my Dad!


My dad, William Bond Smith, Jr.

Some Things I Learned From My Dad!

I was the last of my parent's four children and reveled in the position of being the "baby"'. My siblings were all significantly older than me, so I was more of a living baby doll to them than anything else. From the moment I struggled to take my first breath, my dad was there for me. I was born in a country hospital in Mississippi and challenging deliveries were not the norm.

Unfortunately, I had some serious issues breathing and retaining any formula. The doctor made the decision that I needed to take my first ride in an ambulance at the age of 24-hours. No one wanted to hold me because they all thought that was going to be my final journey. (What a way to kick off my life)!

My daddy told the medical folks, "give me my baby. I'll hold her". He wanted to cradle me in his arms for the hour long ride to the hospital in Jackson. A brave nurse climbed in beside my dad and off we went. Mother had to stay behind to recover from my birth.

I can't remember much from infancy, yet I do believe I learned about unconditional love that day. I felt it from my hero; my daddy. If that was to be my only day on the planet, he made sure that I understood that he loved me.

Thus on that day, a solid foundation was built for a life-long father and daughter relationship. My mother was "in charge" of the children while dad focused on earning a living. My oldest sister, Mary recalls when we came home from the hospital there was something different about our father. He was very invested in my well-being and my upbringing. In fact, my mother learned quickly that I was "his baby". He was overheard telling her that on more than one occasion.

One of my earliest lessons from him was that I could do or be anything that I wanted to be. He was using this popular mantra long before it became mainstream. Daddy told me that I had been blessed with a fine mind and all I needed to do was figure out what I wanted to be. His belief in me has carried me through the toughest times in my life. He taught me gratitude for the abilities I was born with. I also learned to appreciate even the smallest gestures of kindness.

When folks ask me about my parents, I am quick to acknowledge that I learned all of my social talent from my larger-than-life momma. Her beauty, artistic ability and communication skills made her the center of any gathering. Daddy was that quiet, thoughtful type, who preferred intimate conversations with like-minded individuals. He'd rather have his nose in a book than be at a large party. He enjoyed people in smaller doses than my mom required!

Both of them instilled the thirst for knowledge in me and daddy taught me the love of reading. His room was piled high with all sorts of books and you can be certain the he read them all. He encouraged me to question everything and I asked why more than most kids. We'd engage in deep philosophical discussions one minute and then be glued to television watching the World Series or some other sporting event. I watched tennis, football, baseball, horse racing and yes, even golf because he enjoyed sports of any kind. He loved "Pistol Pete" Maravich and Secretariat. We watched Billy Jean King defeat Bobby Riggs and to celebrate he bought me her signature tennis racquet. I learned to appreciate athletes from him.

As I reached the tumultuous teen years, he accepted my silliness as part of growing up. He took the time to get to know my girl friends and was always interested in their endeavors. In more serious times, he was a tower of strength for me.

I rarely ever saw him angry and he only cursed in front of me once or twice. He taught me how a gentlemen treats a lady. He opened doors for my mom, sisters and me. He pulled out our chairs at restaurants and helped us cross the street. I didn't even know how to fuel up my car until I was in college because he'd take my car down to the station to fill it up. He was always doing kind things for my mom and me.

He absolutely adored his parents and made certain that I spent ample time getting to know them. I learned the value of respect and the significance of the elderly folks in my life. I got to know his aunts and uncles, writing to them in a wobbly cursive as a youngster. I still have some letters from my great-aunts stored away. They are priceless to me and serve as a snapshot in time. I learned the value of the written word from him.

There wasn't anything he wouldn't do for the people that he cared about. He made doing for others fun and taught me how rewarding it is to give. He spent the next 19 years of my life showing me how to live and then he was gone.

Decades have passed since his death. Even though he is gone, I can hear his soothing words of comfort when they are needed. His encouraging remarks have made an indelible imprint on my brain. Whenever I doubt myself, his assertions keep me on track.

Dads come in all sorts of varieties and as children we learn from the best of them and the worst of them. I am grateful that I had one that was forever in my corner every day that he walked the earth.

Until we meet again, Happy Father's Day, Dad! ~ Charlsie

 

I will return to the regular format of my blog next week. I wanted to take the opportunity to honor my father and give you some insight into what a remarkable person he was. Happy Father's Day to all of you.