Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Daddy's Birthday

My dad was born 100 years ago today.  He passed away 10 years and 6 weeks ago.  Daddy was born to a 20 year old Anna Mae and Ed Rogers.  Daddy was their first child.  Within a little more than 4 years Daddy would have two sisters added to the family.  The youngest died within days of her birth.  Within 6 days little Tommy's death was followed by the death of Daddy's Momma, his Grandma and Grandpa Rogers and an uncle.  It was 1918 and the terrible flu epidemic swept across the world.

My Grandmother and the brother in law both died in the 1918 flu epidemic.
Needless to say the loss of Daddy's mother at such a young age would influence his entire life.  The extended family had to group together to survive the hard life of rural Texas farmers.  Aunts acted as surrogate mothers while uncles took on the responsibilities of fathers.  Shared farming duties and childcare was common for many families of the time.  First cousins were as close as brothers and sisters.  And family was everything.

The importance of family never changed through out Daddy's life.  Daddy's father, PaPa, almost died as a result of being overcome with gases.  He and a brother in law were cleaning out the bottom of a water well.  Gases would collect in the bottom of the wells.  A neighbor discovered the men and pulled them from the well.  PawPaw, as we grandchildren called him, had permanent lung damage.  Daddy stayed on the farm to help his dad with the rigors of farming.  The help continued even after marriage, a world war and three daughters.  It would not be until PawPaw died in the early 1950's that Daddy would begin to pursue a different direction with his talents.

Daddy was class valedictorian.

Daddy loved to tinker with machines, engines and later electronics.   He first tried automobile repair. Eventually he settled into a business of appliance repair. He worked that profession until he was 84 years old.  Daddy's gentle manner, good humor and deep honesty made his skills trusted by many in the county.  One friend put it so well in the days following Daddy's passing in 2004.  "Arleigh knew where every one of his customers' lived and where they kept their keys.  Every one of us trusted him."

Daddy was not a perfect person.  Who on this earth ever is.  Daddy had a heart for the underdog, underprivileged and orphans in particular.  If the shirt on his back had been the only shirt he had he would have given it to one in need.  Daddy in his 70's was stronger than men half his age.  He loved his wife, four daughters, the men they married and the grandchildren they produced.  And we still love him and miss that wonderful laugh.

Happy Birthday, Daddy

I will forever be Arleigh Rogers' brat.
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