He passed in March of 2003, around the 11th (not sure of the exact date). He had just turned 86.
Two of my favorite memories of him happened when I was 12. We went out in the front yard and threw a softball around for about 20 minutes; it was the only time we ever played catch.
Then we attended a county fair on a hill near us. We rode the Ferris wheel (I hated it; he didn't look thrilled), and I saw a camel for the first time. We also talked to a not-so-famed singer we'd watched on a West Virginia TV station. I'm sure we did other things, but those are the things that stand out.
It's funny, but one of my favorite memories of him came the day he asked me to drive him to the nursing home. First, we sang at least one of his favorite songs ("The Wabash Cannonball") on the way there. When we got in the neighborhood of the place, I realized I was low on gas. I stopped at the gas station, got out and started pumping.
Suddenly, the truck started rocking back and forth, and I wondered for a second if we were having an earthquake. Then I looked into the back window of the truck and realized it was my dad. I'd had to force him to wear a seat belt (it's the law), and he didn't know how to get out of it! Afraid he'd use his knife on it, I ran around, opened his door and got him out safely (with an intact seat belt).
That was a good day and a bad day; I didn't want him to go into the place.
P.S.: I know you are wondering about the knife. My dad would cut the child-proof lids off pill bottles when he couldn't open them. I was afraid he'd do the same to my seat belt. Fortunately, he didn't get the chance.
More blog entries by Tom Gillispie
• Advice for be and would-be novelists
Anecdotes by Tom Gillispie
Entries from The Dog Blog
Blog entries from The Auto Racing Journal
(a book of great stories about the Intimidator)
(the book of great NASCAR stories)