Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Theodore Alexander Wright - A Tribute

If Theodore Alexander Wright, my father, were still alive, he would have turned 105 years old yesterday. He was fifty years old when I was born. I was thirty-five years old when he died.

Daddy had an interesting life. The oldest of eleven siblings, he went to work in the coal mines of Virginia City, Virginia at age fourteen, risking his life daily to help support his family. During the Great Depression, unable to find work, he spent a few years as a hobo, hopping freight trains all over North America. On December 7, 1941, the attack on Peal Harbor spurred him to try to join the Navy. He was turned down because he had high blood pressure. “Don’t worry, Bub,” he was told. “The Army will take you.”

Daddy was drafted into the army in 1942, when he was 37 years old. Though he looked forward to action, the military decided that his mechanical skills would be of more use in the states, where he repaired airplanes.

I loved listening to Daddy tell stories, and so did everybody else who knew him. He could hold people spellbound for hours with tales of his travels. He was a walking, talking history book. He had lived a lot of history, and listening to his life experiences taught me more than any textbook ever could. Following his example, I use stories myself to teach, to entertain, and to create community. Storytelling is the best gift my father ever gave me.

I never saw Daddy angry, never heard him raise his voice to anyone. When I misbehaved, the look of disappointment on his face hurt more than any spanking ever could. Daddy would never lay a hand on a child.

I was a sickly child who feared death. Daddy knew that and would sit with me through the night whenever I had a fever. At six feet five inches tall, 230 pounds, he filled the little room that I shared with my sister, Evelyn. He was a mountain of a man.

In his later years, Daddy delighted in his grandchildren. He was especially close to my daughter, Melanie. Since I was a single mother, he took her to her first Father/Daughter dance. Along with my mother, he took care of Melanie while I worked. He walked her to and from school every day. When she got older, she was embarrassed to have to be walked to school, but afraid to walk by herself. Daddy had the plan to solve that problem. He walked several yards behind her and would not turn around to go home until she snapped her fingers in the air, her signal that she close enough to the school to be okay.

When I got married and moved North, Daddy wrote me a letter every week. I still have all of them, and I treasure them. I will pass them on to Melanie one day.

Daddy died of Multiple Myeloma on August 10, 1987. There is never a day that goes by that I don’t miss him. I love you, Daddy.

1 comment:

  1. ~Tears.~ May I repost on my blog in your name with a link? It's SO GOOD! (((((HUGS))))) sandi