…Daddy Said It, I Believe It And That Settles It!
I learned all I needed to know about unconditional love…and all the southern euphemisms I could handle.
“Get a move on, honey! The store’s not obligated to keep their lights on just because we’re coming. We’re Caudell’s, but they don’t know that.”
My Daddy never could stand a slow young’un and just because I was his didn’t mean I was an exception. He yelled at me the same as he would any ordinary person. I was slow but still special and he made sure we knew whose family we belonged to (The Caudell’s).
And, by golly, that opinionated southern gentleman ensured that we understood it was a privilege to be called by that name and I thank him for that.
As you have probably guessed by now, I was raised by a proud southern daddy. Daddy’s euphemisms (southern sayings) were a daily way of life. Most people would be lost on their meaning unless they lived out each one as we did; and we learned quickly to do so. Life in our household had its ups and downs, but mostly it was fun growing up in my home. I wouldn’t trade it for all the red dirt in Alabama.
Getting a “move-on” to the car was the easy part. It was the destination to the store that was an adventure! Although my Dad never got speeding tickets, he was an impatient driver. He swore those people on the road were taking their time because it was HIM behind them.
“Somebody give me a hammer! It looks like they’re going to pitch a tent in the middle of the road. I recon we should give them what they need; otherwise, we’ll be here all day!”
When he wasn’t anonymously mumbling at other drivers, he stuck his head out the window and stared them down. For us, it was like driving in a “marked car,” and it never failed, people got out of our way. Daddy was taking his kids to town and that was the most important agenda of the day. Though a battle, we managed to make it to the store intact.
You figured the store would be a safe refuge, but even there you were not safe from Daddy’s opinions. It was OUR allowance but it was his job to make sure we spent it wisely. One by one, we would show him our intended purchases and one by one, he gave his opinion.
“You need that about as much as a dog needs a pocket watch,”
he’d say as he shook his head in disapproval.
After careful consideration (and his watchful eye), we would put it back figuring he knew something that we didn’t. Daddy had good taste in clothes too. He told you when you looked beautiful, but also felt it his obligation to warn you when you might look foolish. He’d say (out loud),
“Don’t wear that! You’ll stick out like a pine cone in a punch bowl (or he’d substitute some unmentionable bathroom humor word for pine cone)!”
Nobody wanted to imagine what that looked like, so off you went to put the ugly thing back on the rack.
My Dad made sure that we knew grades were an important part of our education. I generally got two dollars for good grades, but lost one of them when Daddy saw my behavior grade. I stayed in trouble for talking too much. My Dad says that I could “talk the horns off a Billy goat” and he’s probably right; although most people say I came by it honest. At any rate, I only made twelve dollars in my whole school career. But that’s OK, Daddy always knew how to make you feel better when you were having a hard year. My Dad, the eternal optimist, would look at my report card with B’s and C’s and my first D on it and say,
“Well, with grades like these, I know you’re not cheatin.’”
Character played a big role in our upbringing.
My Dad taught me the value in a good cup of coffee. He worked late into the night when I was a little girl. My mother and I would go downtown to pick him up, window shopping while we waited for him to get off work. It was already into the night hours when he got off, so we turned the corner and spent the rest of the evening at Krispy Kreme, eating doughnuts and drinking coffee. Back in those days, people weren’t in a much of a hurry as they are now.
Coffee played a dual role during my tumultuous teen years. There were times when a cup of coffee was the only thing my Dad and I had in common. It kept us connected no matter what happened. One minute we were yelling at each other and the next, we were at Waffle House, drinking coffee, and talking about the weather and anything but what had just taken place.
Daddy taught me about unconditional love during those times. When we were on the other side of an argument and my punishment had been meted out, he would look into his cigarette pack and say,
“Would you look at that! I’m out of cigarettes. Let’s you and me go to the store.”
I knew that he had a carton on top of the refrigerator (40 years former smoker), but also that he was anxious to make things right again. The storm was over, all had been forgiven, and we could love again.
I’d have to say that there wasn’t a subject that my Daddy didn’t cover during my childhood and I was made ever the richer for it. A compliment to my brother was that he was as “tough as a pine knot,” and my dad could fix anything “quicker than a New York minute.” When he left a decision up to me, it was, “Your little red wagon, you can push it or pull it.”
“Forty on a mule” meant that he was too busy at the time and if you wanted to let someone know that you were better after an illness, you’d tell them that you’re “as regular as a goose goin’ barefoot.”
There was never any sense in trying to convince my daddy that something could be done if it seemed like an impossible situation. You knew the conversation was over when he said,
“Honey, you can’t put a quart of water in a pint jar!”
And if we came to a fork in the road where the ebb and flow of traffic kept changing, when making the decision as to which one to take, my Dad would shake his head and reply,
“It doesn’t matter which road we choose. With the way the traffic is moving, you might as well exchange a witch for the devil anyway.”
Nevertheless, what is possible is to tell anybody who will listen is what a special man Carl Caudell is. I knew from the beginning that I was the luckiest kid in town. I always felt a mite sorry for the other girls that they weren’t born into my family.
If you ever get the pleasure to meet him, remember not to “irk” him and be sure to wear good shoes. You know, the cheap ones “fall apart like a two-dollar suitcase.” And, if my Daddy tells you that a “piss ant can pull a wagon,” then honey, “you better hitch him up!”
NOTE: Everything in this is true – none of it is made up. My dad really IS like this (not that I would want him any other way). My Dad is such a character that for a PTA fundraiser he was once in a play called, “A Womanless Wedding.” This was back in the 60’s, so he decided to be a “feminist bridesmaid” and wore my mother’s tight, red mini skirt, complete with garter belt and fishnet stockings. As he approached the front, with flowers in hand, he reached behind him, lifted his skirt and…scratched.
Folks, this FATHER’S DAY, if you don’t have your father, remember them with fondness and find someone to share memories with. If you do still have your dads, then appreciate them while you have them, and if you have your father but have few memories, create some brand new ones.
IT’S NEVER TOO LATE.