dee_burris: (Default)
2012-06-17 08:36 am
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Musing on Father's Day...

As I suspect is the case with most geneabloggers, full identities of fathers in the family history are usually easier to come by than is the case for mothers.

Out of 20,000+ souls in my family tree, I still have 539 MNUs and it bugs the heck out of me.

Some of the fathers in my family history could rightly be considered heroes. A few of them had a tad too many less-than-sterling qualities for hero status, including my own g-g-grandfather.
Nonetheless, I see examples of fathers who are unsung heroes every day - in my family tree, and men who aren't related to me at all.

These men - the dads, I call them - don't fit the mold we in the United States have crafted for fathers in our history - stoic breadwinners who left the details of child-raising to the women.

I think of my grandfathers...Papa Joe (Williams), who nearly always had that mischievous grin on his face. He was my Papa who helped me use the magnifying glass to read new words in his prized unabridged Webster's dictionary, because one could just never know too many words...

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And my Granddaddy Burris, who loved to tease his granddaughters as they grew about whether or not we had a boyfriend...

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We lost both of them too soon, but certainly had them long enough to benefit from their wisdom and their love.
About a year and a half ago, I blogged about a daddy whose love for his children made me cry.

I am not related to him, but I knew his daughter a long time ago. If you're like me, you'll need to read The Lines on the Doorframe with tissues in hand.
There's another daddy I know who frequently makes me misty-eyed.

He's my son. On my everything-else blog, I've written a Father's Day tribute to Adam.

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Happy Father's Day to all the dads...
dee_burris: (Default)
2011-06-19 10:52 am

Honoring Dads...Happy Father's Day

I have several Dads in my life, even though only one of them is my own.

For all the Dads out there, I hope this day is one you enjoy.
My Dad is nearly 75. He was 22 years old, when I, his firstborn, arrived.

I like to think we've done some growing up together. I know the last 20 years is probably where we've made the most progress.

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Although Dad's story is uniquely his own, the older I get, the more I marvel at watching the cycles play out in my family, largely due to Dad.

He was the only son in his family of four kids, and third in birth order. His parents instilled in him a solid work ethic, and he was also gifted with something that's become quite rare these days - common sense.

He knew you had to work hard to get what you wanted and needed in life.

This was one of the first things he worked hard for, and he probably considered it a need at the time.

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My Dad made his living with his hands. He was a mason, who created things with his hands out of block and brick. He had his own business. He worked long hours when I was a child, but I remember the times we spent together when he wasn't working.

Quite a bit of it was very close to the place where he lives now - the land of the Burris homeplace in Pope County, Arkansas...the place where his great grandfather carved out both home and business, and where his father was born. It was there that he showed me how to dig earthworms beside his Aunt Emma's chicken coop to use for bait when we fished. He was the one who showed me the low stacked stone walls our ancestors built when clearing the fields for planting.

Dad was nearly 43 years old when he married the love of his life. Together, they have made homes in three places - starting on that land, then moving to Michigan for several years, and coming full circle back to the land.

My folks and I compare notes on our family history. Dad has very matter-of-factly accepted some of the revelations I've made about our family history in the last few years.

He and I both enjoy finding the truth of our history, and recording it so it never has to be secret again.

On this Father's Day, I want Dad to know how much I appreciate the gifts of the love of family and pride of hard work he has given me.

I hope I am honoring him by passing those down.
One of the other Dads in my life is my son.

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In the last few years, my son has added two daughters to his family. He is the custodial parent of his oldest daughter.

That blows me away.

My boy has become a man.

I am in awe of how he does it...

And am struck by the similarities in the two Dads - both hard-working fathers, and acutely aware of the importance of family.

My son's own dad died in 2005. They were very close, and my son was devastated. He figured out that it truly does take a village to raise a child, and has embraced his village, which includes his own cousins and their children. All the kids will grow up with rich family connections - a new generation of Burrises with strong family ties.

I'm so proud of him I could bust.
For these very special Dads, I wish for you peace and contentment today.

You've both earned it.

Love y'all...
dee_burris: (Default)
2010-12-11 07:41 pm

Sentimental Sunday: The lines on the doorframe

In May 2008, central Arkansas was hit hard by tornadoes.

I had a daily reminder of them as I took a shortcut to work through a Little Rock neighborhood that was devastated by those storms.

Trees that are easily older than I were ripped out of the ground and tossed into the street, or onto a neighbor's house. The hop-skip-jump pattern of the tornado was easy to detect by the number of homes that have been torn completely down, and new (replacement) homes built on old foundations. Even three months later in August.

There was one house in particular that I was watching. The owners elected to tear down and start from scratch and they chose a new facade for the new home. It was almost complete, and sat on a corner lot right where I stopped each day, waiting for construction traffic to pass.
Back in the olden days when I was in grade school, one of my friends lived in that house. Her family hosted many a sleep-over there and her older brother used to scare the shit out of us when we "camped out" in the backyard. As I watched the rebuilding process, I wondered if her family still lived there. When we were in the third grade, her older brother died of leukemia in his fifth grade year. It was the first time I had known someone my age who had to deal with the death of a sibling. It made me look a little differently at my own sisters.

On a late August day as I made my way to work and approached the corner, I saw an old man getting out of a truck parked in front of the house. He reached into the bed of the truck and awkwardly heaved out what looked like a board wrapped up in some plastic trash bags. It was raining lightly, and he just stood there in the drizzle, looking at the house. The closer I got to the corner and the stop sign, the more familiar he looked.

So I stopped and parked behind his truck.

Telling myself I was going to scare an old man and make a fool of myself, I got out anyway. I stood a respectful distance away from him, and said what I hoped was his name. When I was a kid, we called all adults Mr. or Mrs. Last Name, and I did the same then.

He looked at me. Didn't recognize me. (It had only been 40 years.) I walked a little closer and told him who I was - at least who I was then.

His eyes lit up and he extended his hand to shake mine. He said, "I'd hug you but I'd have to put this down and I don't want it to get wet."

"This" turned out to be a piece of the kitchen doorframe. When I was a kid, just about every one of my friend's houses had the same one. So did mine.

The one where our parents had us stand up with our backs against it while they marked our height with lines - "My god, how you've grown!" - and put our initials and the date on it. My dad used a carpenter's pencil.

He said there was no choice but to tear the house down and start over. But not completely over.

Because the kitchen doorframe - the side where he marked my friend's changing height, as well as the height of the son he buried at age 11 - had survived the tornado.

So we went down the driveway still covered in sand and construction muck into the unfinished garage. He unwrapped the piece of the doorframe and showed it to me. And took me inside to show me where it would be placed by the carpenters that morning.
I got my hug, and left to go to work. But not before I sat in my car for a few moments with tears running down my face, and gave thanks for daddies who cherish the lines on the doorframe.