By: Kimberly Hays
The funeral that Thad wrote about earlier this week was actually my Dad’s. A little expected, a little unexpected, but nonetheless I have found myself displaced right back to Wetumpka for the next little while. In all the visits, cards, and calls we have received this week I have heard one thing repeatedly. My dad was proud of the independent women he raised and of the independent woman he married. He was proud that my sister and I not only had the opportunity to receive a college education, but that we both seized that opportunity. He was also proud that we recognized that intelligence did not always come from a college classroom or a text book, but sometimes comes when a little girl sits around a kitchen table with her dad, grandpa, and uncles.
Dad and I were alike in too many ways to name, but politics was definitely our thing. I have read news magazines for as long as I remember being able to read, Rush Limbaugh played on television as I got ready for elementary school, and the State of the Union was our own personal Superbowl. Even after I left home, Dad and I would talk pre and post State of the Union and spend the next few days breaking the speech down play by play. It didn’t matter who was giving the speech, we weighed and debated just the same.
Even though I could probably guess, my dad never told me who he voted for – ever. He loved the secret ballot; he saw beauty in the democratic process (even when it didn’t go his way) and in open debate. No topic was off limits in our house, but I was always expected to carry on these debates with grace and respect for the individuals involved. We talked abortion, immigration, torture, civic responsibility and the list goes on. I did make a conscious choice to avoid discussing the war. My dad, grandpa, and great uncles were all career military men. Between them they covered every branch, every major conflict, were practically their own Joint Chiefs of Staff and only by the grace of God not court-martialed a hundred times over for raising hell. I never wanted my father to think that I was not grateful for his service and the service of the men (and the women and children who loved them) in my family. My dad was never in a war, but he served this country in a time that wearing his uniform would get him spat upon and called a ‘baby killer’. He and millions of other men and women served this country so I could be a woman with a PhD, so I could voice dissent over a war and so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, so I can be a Christian with a roommate who was raised Buddhist and plenty of friends who are atheist, and so I could support a political candidate by volunteering for his campaign and putting a sticker with his funny sounding name on my car.
Burying my dad was obviously not something I looked forward to doing this week. However, being surrounded by people who love me and reminiscing about my dad and his quirks has made the week easier. Today, however, I was hurt by the actions of a stranger, actions that flew in the face of everything that my dad served this country for and spent his life trying to teach me. Maybe you think you just ripped an Obama sticker off a car in a church parking lot, but instead you reminded my of the ignorance that my dad promised me I would encounter in life. You also reminded me to treat you with grace and respect. I think my dad would be proud of me.
P.S. Confidential to the Sticker Ripper – I have another one =)