My dad was funny. He’d turn his hat backwards and pop out his one tooth to make you laugh. That tooth? It was a partial denture. The story I’ve been told is that he got in a fight with a fella that was sweet on mom back in high school. (Dad lost the tooth but won the fight.)

Normally staid, he’d break into this comedic spirit when the opportunity called for levity. His timing was always perfect.

My dad was extremely intelligent. He learned engineering on his own and eventually started a machine shop with his brothers that employed many over the years. They called it GRAFIC Machine Shop. The name stood for “God Rewards A Family In Christ.”

He would go on to hold several patents for inventions he created. I always marveled at his delight in this regard after having seen the hard work and technical documentation and hoops that were required to attain them.

My dad was a bit of a religious man. His faith evolved over the years, but I can’t remember him forcing it upon me as I grew to be my own person.

He got all the good parts of religion. He forgave without hesitation and would lend a hand of support to anyone in need. His heart was huge.

My dad was a nerd. Somehow he always knew about the next big technology thing and procured it for the family. Laserdisc players, video game systems, a home PC, and a couple tech bits that made him grin like no other: the first was a customizable car horn that could play snippets of songs like La Cucaracha. The other was an electronic doorbell that could play hundreds of songs, like “Happy Birthday” (and probably La Cucaracha too). Being a machinist, he also always made sure the latest CNC machines were on the floor of the shop.

My dad loved music. He and mom had an extensive collection of 8-tracks and records. And each week we’d gather round the TV for the Grand Ol’ Opry.

“Why does Minnie Pearl have that tag on her hat?” I asked more than once.

We went and visited Loretta Lynn’s Ranch once down in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. Dad got a real nice cowboy hat at the store there. My vernacular totally has to shift to capture these moments. (I still use y’all in email.)

We’d go to concerts for the McClain Family Band. He and mom would go see Elvis and Neil Diamond other big names of the time. (They also took clogging classes which is tangentially related to music!)

And my dad left this world too soon.

I wish I could talk with him and get to know more about that half of who I am, and more of who he wanted to be.