My dad told me a few stories about my grandfather, TW, who died when Dad was about 16. TW was a big man, like my dad, and Dad was afraid of him. Dad told me that once, they went fishing, and he saw a water moccasin slither into the water off the bank. TW stopped right there and said, “Son, that looks like a good spot for you to go in.” They went into the lake knee-deep to drop their lines. Dad stepped into the water. He said, "I was terrified of snakes, but I was more afraid of my dad.”
One time, Dad did something that made my grandma very angry, and she said, “I’m going to get my belt right now.” Dad ran out and scrambled under the house. When TW got home, Dad knew he was in for it. TW came marching out and started crawling after Dad, who said, “Is she after you, too, Dad?” TW was so amused that Dad escaped a whipping. Dad was always ready to use his sense of humor to change the mood, or alter a situation.
When he was a teenager, Dad really wanted a car, and he found an old model T that was on blocks and needed repairs. The owner had a construction company, so Dad asked if he could trade some labor to pay for the car. The owner told him to show up at 7 the next morning.
Dad worked all day as a hod carrier, one of the hardest construction jobs. He hauled wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of bricks and mortar to the masons for 10 hours. He went home and just collapsed in bed. He described himself as overweight and lazy, and he knew he could just not make it another day doing that kind of work.
Early the next morning, TW woke him up and said, “Son, do you need to go to work?”
Dad said, “I just can’t go back, Dad, I’ll forfeit the car.”
TW said, “Son, did you make a deal with that man?”
Dad said, “Yessir,” and got up and went to work.
He said he got the car but could never make it run. But he made pretty good money disassembling it and selling the parts.
In high school, Dad started playing football. He said he would come home all dirty and sweaty. TW couldn’t believe it, as Dad had always avoided hard physical work. TW was curious what inspired Dad to change his habits so radically, so he went to watch a game one Friday night. After that, he never missed one of Dad’s games until he died.