Golfing, Rollie Pollies and the Red Dirt Road
Parenting, the greatest job you are given. The greatest man I never knew, by Reba sums up how I knew my dad. He passed away when he was only 48 years old. I have had this story written and re-written for a couple of weeks now. I could not put into words how I felt about my dad. I have finally said out-loud I was mad at him. For finally showing up to be actively involved in our lives, finally taking vacations with mom and enjoying them, finally allowing the support of family and friends to love him and go to church with mom when he was feeling well. Oh, my dad was the dad who was a man of little words, but when he spoke it was usually even tempered with sometimes sarcasm or a laugh. He was a man who loved to sing, write music, drink and smoke and play golf and fish. He was your baseball coach, took you hunting, fishing, swimming, let you drive, even if it meant you were in the ditches driving. Dad chose mom over professional golfing. A little fact some of you may not know, dad was a really great golfer. He played against the best of the best in the 70’s. Him and Bruce Lietzke placed first and second throughout their high school tournaments back in the day. Dad also was a locally known putt-putt champion. The place he practiced encouraged him to go pro when he was in junior high. Dad’s reasoning for no was, he wanted to play high school golf.
I still am amazed and at awe how God is putting people and words in my path. Doodle bugs really? This was the opening talk in church today before the prayer team came up. Doodle bugs, my rollie polies that have been on paper for over 2 weeks. This week has been difficult for us with loss of one of my daughter’s close friends and me struggling with why I couldn’t write about dad. The lady in church was telling a story of one of her kids from Sunday school, her doodle bugs died (OMG! Our rollie pollies are in a cemetery). Her student believed in God and the lessons she had heard she believed she could raise the doodle bugs from the dead. The Sunday school teacher had to explain the doodle bugs where given the role of fertilizing the ground when they died. For everything there is a time and season. She did not go into the entire Ecclesiates 3, that we know so well. She explained to a young child the purpose of the doodle bugs life in simple words. To be thankful for the season of life you are in.
He never took me golfing when we were growing up, but he showed us how to hit a golf ball in the field by our house. This I guess was his time and he lived in another city most of our childhood, except weekends. I had the privilege of going one time with dad when I was around 21. We were at the 1st tee box. I was so nervous. I was praying, thinking Lord just let me hit this ball straight. Don’t let me embarrass myself. I exhaled after the shot that went well over 150 yards and thank goodness straight. We got in the golf cart. He was laughing at this point, popped open a beer and said, “Good shot sister, I was hoping you would be able to hit.” He didn’t want to be teased about his daughter not being able to play golf. We played on until the rain ended our game at the 9th hole.
This golf trip meant the entire world to me as a young adult. As the lady in church was talking about being thankful for the dirty underwear you are picking up, because you are blessed to have the husband or kids in your home. All I kept thinking of was, oh thank you for taking me golfing, thank you for giving me a dad who taught me how drive a stick shift. His words, “It’s your car you better learn how to drive it.” Thank you for giving me a dad who played the guitar and sang his heart out to Willie, Merle, and Marty. Thank you for giving me a dad who took us to the creek, taught us to fish with ivory soap and hot-dogs. Made you swim across the Village Creek, his way of making sure you could swim and play by yourself in the water. Thank you for giving me a dad who provided for us, cared for us and loved us. Thank you for giving me a dad who sat in my bedroom, with a gun waiting on some crazy x of mine to come in because he wouldn’t take-No we aren’t dating. Thank you for this crazy -x, because this was the part of dad’s life he became sober. This was also the exact time of my life that brought me to Galveston, in which I would meet my husband. Thank you for giving us a dad who walked me and sister down the isles when we got married. Thank you for giving him back to mom years before his death. Thank you for giving me the time to play golf with him and every time I step out onto a golf course those memories of our red dirt road putt putt course comes to my mind and I smile.
Our three-bedroom, white wooden house- with red shutters, sat bout 50 yards off the red dirt road. You could smell the iron ore in the air, from the dust that blew into the unsealed windows. This small house had wooden and laminate floors. Wooden walls with peeling, cloth wall paper and paneling. This wooden house that sat on cinder blocks was surrounded by towering cedar and oak trees and one beautiful wisteria tree. The cedar trees were so large their limbs touched the ground. Their limbs created a canopy of shade and wall of protection from the red dirt road. Grass did not grow under these trees. The magnificent oak trees held a tire swing. This tire swing was held in place by a wire rope at least 20 feet up to the first branch.
Under this grove of cedar trees, yaupons, and oak trees was nothing but dirt, acorns and rolly pollies. You may be wondering what a rolly polly is, well it looks like caterpillar with an armadillo shell. It can roll up, just like an armadillo. It is actually from the crustations family and is not an insect. It has 14 legs. WOW. We should know how many legs these little pill bugs have, we’ve been playing all morning with them.
We, being my sister and brother. I am the oldest. My sister is the middle child and brother is the baby. At this point of our life we were 5, 7, and 9 years old. We moved in with Granny when I was entering the 4th grade. Granny’s house became home to us for 5 years.
This Saturday morning granny was making cupcakes for church tomorrow. Dinner on the ground. For some reason we never ate on the ground, but there was casseroles and desserts to eat when big church was over. We asked if we could have the left-over cupcake liners. Well Granny being the most giving person I know said yes. We went and gathered up all of our art supplies and yep, brother brought his hot wheels. We drew little bricks and windows on these cupcake liners. We even cut out little doors for the rolly pollies to roll on into. We were creating the largest rolly polly city ever. I had my little rolly polly house set up at the base of the large oak tree. It was a beautiful red brick homes with a chimney aka stick. Sister had her house set up on the other side of the oak tree. Sister’s house was a yellow house with a pink roof and brother was taking the rolly pollies for rides in his hot wheels, around and around our large oak tree. Brother was the taxi driver of our little doodle bug town. We have broken up sticks to make the tracks of the roads.
Brother disappeared for a few minutes only to return with the real hot wheels plastic orange track and this starts the first ever rolly polly races. We stacked up empty coffee cans and leaned the plastic tracks on them, just like brother’s pine wood derby track. The first race was a mess. No don’t think like this, no rolly polly died in a gut splattering crash. We didn’t know whose doodle bug was whose. So me being the oldest and brightest at the time, uh markers. We each chose our favorite color and colored our little rolly polly like a little a derby car. When you picked up the rolly polly it automatically curls into a ball. So, we placed them at the top of the track and let them roll. This went on for hours. As soon as they hit the ground they would open up and try to escape. We were a little quicker.
Brother was taking our rolly pollies to their respectful houses when we heard sister wail! What is wrong? She was bawling, “It’s dead!” Oh no I thought not her precious little pink rolly polly. We started playing 101 questions to find out, it was not her rolly polly, it was her next-door neighbor. She went to visit and it was not moving. So, we created a rolly polly cemetery. She led us in a little prayer and her tears dried up. Off in the distance we could hear dad’s blue truck coming down the road.
He pulled up with brooms, a spade (little shovel), wood, nails and a hammer. This was right up brother’s alley- wood, nails and a hammer. We jumped for joy asking if he was building us a rolly polly castle. He laughs as said, “No, I’m building us a putt-putt course.” We hadn’t played putt-putt, since we left the city. We relocated our rolly polly city to the cedar tree area temporarily, while we were constructing our very own putt-putt course. If an out of towner drove by they would have thought we were plum crazy. All four of us under these large oak trees with our brooms sweeping the dirt and acorns. We swept till the dirt was as smooth as butter, no but it was smooth.
Dad laid out the first hole- a straight on 6-foot putt. We marked the edges with two by fours. So, we dug out a two inch trough and placed the wood in the trough. Dad put brother in charge of digging out the holes, while sister and I dug the trenches with dad. The second hole was up a ramp and drop off the small platform to a hole about 2 foot away. The third hole was a doosey! It was a bank shot, at least 8 foot. You had to bank to the left to make the ball go to the right, and the hole was off in the far corner. Number four hole was almost like the windmill at putt-putt, but without the movement. It was a straight in shot but you had to make your ball go under a little plastic arch. It became difficult when brother figured out how to swing his club back and forth, as you try to putt.
This putt-putt course lasted for many years. It had many great games, arguments and hole moving moments. I would not change a thing about that course. Our rolly polly town moved back to the oaks and was now overlooking a grand Red Dirt Road Golf Course.
God did not take my dad from us, Cancer did.
KJV- John 10:10-11 The thief cometh not, but to steal, and to kill and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
I am so thankful I had the many wonderful seasons of time with him.
To Everything There is a Season
1To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.