~I learned all I needed to know about unconditional love…
and all the southern humor I could handle~
In 1969, my mother was president of the P.T.A. for my brother’s and my Elementary School. One of the job descriptions of the P.T.A. was to help raise funds for the school. In the south, you could typically expect a cakewalk or car wash. Nothing exciting, but at least we got to eat something sweet, which was a plus considering that southerners love to eat. Southern people are also known for being friendly, so you’d think we could come up with something to laugh about while we’re eating all that chocolate cake. Or maybe it’s all the sweet tea we drink.
Come to think of it, maybe southern folks are friendly because we drink a lot of sweet tea.
Sweet tea was a staple in our house, so there were a lot of happy people who lived there. Laughing was just as much a part of our family life as eating desserts after dinner. So, it didn’t surprise me when my mother and father came up with a fun idea for a P.T.A. fundraiser known as: A Womanless Wedding. In our little town, we had way too many interesting characters not to utilize them. In the sixties, my little friends and I loved playing dress-up, so we got excited about it too. Only one of my friends got nervous about it. I didn’t understand her uneasiness until she said,
This is our PARENTS playing dress-up! They’ll embarrass us!
While I did understand her agony, being a kid myself, the upshot was that the play was supposed to be funny. But then, my family was like this all the time and I was used to it. People in the south can be very traditional, so I didn’t expect any funny business. Which was kind of a let-down since the best kind of humor is “funny business” related.
If you’re going to be humorous, make sure it’s memorable.
There is a reason why people watch reruns on television.
The day came. As I watched the “ensemble” come down the aisle, I had to admit that it was comical, all those dads in long dresses, wigs, and lipstick. My dad was the last bridesmaid. I sat up in my chair because I knew he would stand out from everybody else. This was my daddy and, sure enough, he did NOT disappoint.
All eyes turned towards my dad as he did the traditional “bridesmaid walk” down the aisle…
…in a tight red mini skirt, fishnet stockings, my mother’s teased wig, hoop earrings, and spiked high heels with the pointed toes.
This was the sixties when mini-skirts and fishnet stockings were in style. Only my dad would attempt to be the odd man out and choose the character of a feminist bridesmaid. Everyone laughed out loud! I was the only one not laughing. Why? Because I knew my father; he wasn’t finished yet. So, I waited.
Eyes still on him, the laughter coming to an end, my dad did what only my dad would do: ad-lib. As he took careful steps up the stairs to join the procession, flowers in hand, he reached behind him, pulled up the back of his skirt…
And the walls shook. My dad was built like Barney Fife, so it was doubly hilarious. Naturally, we made more money that year than ever. My dad was a hit. Life went back to normal…well, for everybody but me. You see, I got to live with the legend.
As I reflect on Father’s Day, nobody had a better daddy than me. Because while those people got to share in a part of who my dad was, I had something that they didn’t. I had his love and affection. When he was on stage, he was thinking of his kids and the memories this would make. I knew what he was going to do because I could read his mind; I am my daddy’s child! Today, I’m grateful not only to have known him but to have been loved by him.
There’s nothing like a little southern humor and unconditional love, and I had them both.
NOTE: Everything in this is true – none of it is made up. Folks, if you still have your father, love on him like he’ll be gone tomorrow. This year, I no longer have my sweet daddy, but in honor of him, I can still share his life with others. Make memories because they last forever.
In fondest memory of Carl Caudell 1934 – 2018