Wednesday, February 20, 2013

In Memory of My Daddy

Herman Davis Reynolds 1927-2013
Daddy loved taking pictures. Here in Vienna, Austria, while in the Army. A place he always wanted to go back and see again. 
My daddy died on February 10, Sunday in the wee hours of the morning, peacefully, in his sleep. My brother and I were with him, although somehow that sweet man, determined to protect his children to the very end,  waited until we had both drifted off to sleep before he took his final breath.

Somewhere just before midnight, I sat on his bed, held his hand, laid my head on his shoulder, and said my final goodbye. Although he had not opened his eyes for more than a few seconds at a time on Saturday, I'm sure he knew I was there.

My daddy's smile.
My daddy could fix most anything. He was a diesel bus mechanic on Fort Benning for 30 years. He could wire a house, plumb a bathroom, lay tile, hang sheet rock  and cover up any of his unmatched corners with "a little caulk and flashing." When I was in third grade, he built us a house  while he was still working full time. He even dug the well himself.

He knew cars and engines, and was always working on somebody's vehicle in our backyard. I can remember standing on the bumper or leaning against the fender of some car or truck while he worked, his coveralls stained, his hands black with grease. When necessary, he attached a "come along" tool to the top bar of an old swing set frame and pulled the engine. I was always fascinated by that word. To this day, I don't know if that tool has an official name, but I have fond memories of Daddy and his come along.

Most of my childhood is chronicled in some form of home movies. Here he is with my son Andrew and my brother, Gary. Daddy kept up with the changing technology from 8mm to Super 8 to Camcorder. In fact he was learning to use my iPad the week before he went to Hospice House.

He was still cutting grass for people on his riding lawn mower until he went into the hospital in November.
My daddy was never still for very long. Oh, he knew how to rest, he wasn't a workaholic, but he loved to be doing something, and usually that doing took some form of helping people.

He loved to laugh and could pull off an occasional practical joke. Once when all of my mother's family had gathered for dinner at my uncle's south Georgia home, my aunt from Atlanta fixed herself a plate of leftovers to carry back home with her. She piled up the fried catfish and down home vegetables and Aunt Alma's 8-layer chocolate cake. While she wasn't looking, my daddy scraped all the table scraps onto a paper plate, wrapped it in tin foil, and switched the plates. We still laugh at the thought of her nursing those table scraps in her lap all the way to Atlanta.

My younger daughter, Jeanetta, was here with me for the dying part through the funeral. 
My older daughter, Jen, was here with me for the funeral and the cleaning out the house part. 
Andrew came just for the funeral 
and we Skyped Stephen in from Nigeria for the service.

While going through all the stuff, we happened upon a stack of old cards--birthday cards and Father's Day cards that my brother and I and our children had sent him over the years. He had scrawled his response to each message somewhere on the card. What a treasure we found!
The inside of this one said: 
And so God bless you, Dad, 
for all you are...for all you do,
There can't be many fathers 
who are loved as much as you. 

And his response: I would like to have been more but you must know I have always loved you.

And I did. What greater legacy than that could a father leave to his children. I always knew I was loved. 


  1. Simply beautiful. Thank you for sharing this. By the way, it looks like you have his smile. : )

  2. Your dad was part of that wonderful generation wasn't he, Dori? What a lovely piece you've written about him. I'm sorry for your loss, & know you are sad. I love it all, but that he wrote on the cards is really special.

  3. You've written a beautiful memorial to your dad, vivid enough so we can glimpse the size of your loss. I'm so sorry. Those cards you found are a real treasure, and all of your memories. Hugs to you.