I never thought that I had much in common with my dad.

As one of four girls, we did not have much interaction with Daddy growing up.

To be honest, we didn’t have much interaction after we’d grown up, either.

In fact, I estimate that were I to take a trip listening to a recording of every conversation I’ve ever had with Daddy, I wouldn’t make it past Houston. Or possibly Cleveland.

A 10-minute conversation could be excruciating. A 45-minute conversation? Unthinkable.

What did we have to talk about? We just didn’t have that much in common.

I was a journalist. He was a mechanic.

I had a college degree. He had no interest in college.

I had lived most of my life in the city and had traveled all over the country. He lived most of his life in his hometown, and had never wanted to leave.

He loved shopping for bargains, garage sales and junk. If I could afford it, I’d pay someone to shop for me and gladly pay full price. Garage sales make me tired.

My dad and I shared opposite viewpoints on just about everything. I thought we had very little in common.

I was wrong.

I discovered this while sitting at his funeral, listening to someone else’s description of Daddy.

My sister Marla had written the eulogy, describing some of Daddy’s character traits.

He always thought he could fix things. He thought he could fix anything and keep it running — cars, lawnmowers, bicycles, his health.

He didn’t like accepting help or having to admit that he needed any.

He was particular about just about everything.

As I sat there, I thought of his other character traits.

He didn’t suffer fools lightly.

The water was backing up in the pipes, and he was explaining the situation to a friend, who made the mistake of commenting that the sewer line would have to be dug up.

“I know it’s got to be dug up,” he said scornfully. “I ain’t stupid.”

Of course not.

He was bluntly honest, and he was honest when it would have been much better for him to have just kept his mouth shut.

“How are the chicken enchiladas?” (That I spent hours making at your request.)

“Well, they aren’t as good as the last ones you made. The jalapenos aren’t hot enough.”

He wasn’t particularly sentimental.

He had a phenomenal memory.

He also forgave easily. It was very difficult for him to hold onto a grudge, sometimes to the point of allowing people to take advantage of him.

He never hesitated to stand up for what he thought was right, and would not be dissuaded from it, no matter what the consequence.

He was practical.

He could assess any situation, immediately spot the flaw, and identify what needed to be done to correct it.

Most of the time it took a lot to make him angry, but when he was angry, it was a fearsome sight.

When I think about it, I’d say most of these character traits have served me well as a human being, and as a journalist.

And like him, I can see where it wouldn’t hurt me to be a little less bluntly honest, and to be little more patient and a little less critical with the ones I love.

There are worse things than being honest, forthright and stubbornly dedicated to standing up for what is right, no matter what.

Garage sales, for example.


Quick Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

  • 2 pkgs. pre-cooked, diced chicken
  • 1 16 oz. carton sour cream
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Monterey jack cheese
  • Tortilla chips
  • Jalapeno slices

Mix soup and sour cream, thin with about 1/4 cup water or milk. Mix chicken, onion and 1 cup of cheese. Grease a 9-inch square baking dish. Place about 1/2 cup soup mixture on bottom, add thick layer of tortilla chips, top with chicken/cheese mixture, cover with half of remaining soup mixture. Repeat chips/chicken/soup layering once more. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until bubbly. Top with remaining of cheese and jalapeno slices.

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