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My daddy was a big, big man. Not really but the realization that he was of average size (average in height for men in America  is not six feet) came after we lost him. To me he was always big, because until I began school, I was his auto companion. And he certainly loved my mother. He seemed to know everything. 

    My daddy was the fifth of ten children, and he knew how difficult it could be to keep a large family from starving in the early and mid thirties. When one of his  brothers smoked behind the barn, engulfing with flames the barn, stock rooms,  and all its contents, this was a catastrophe for both the family and the livestock. Granny had to hide this child every time Granddaddy came close to keep him from giving the boy another whipping.

     My daddy had an unusual name--Ottis Bell. Biblical names went to five of his brothers and Alton to the baby boy: John, James, Thomas, Samuel, Joseph filled out the roll call. Daddy became O.B. But he always thought someone would bear his name.

   Today, each of my childen's family, he never met,  has added Bell as a third name before the last of one of their own children. One daughter is changing her middle name to "Bell."

     I never argued or gave "sass' to my dad. I couldn't lie to him. He could look at me and know the truth anyway. If I were angry with a school teacher, he would ask, "If I go to that school tomorrow, am I  going to hear the same story?".(Oh to have "five minutes more" as Scotty McCreary sings,proving clean, country songs can be hits time after time.)

         I never wanted to make my dad angry. But time rolls on. Although we had three biological children, my husband thought we should be foster parents.

   Our having our own slowed the process, but eventually we were assigned a girl. Slowly we became acquainted, getting her for weekend visits, vacation times, then the school year, and soon adoption became a topic.

     Both sets of our parents were against this. Daddy followed me to my car one day as I was leaving and said, "One question. How will you feed all these kids.?"

   Then we took this girl to meet her new grandparents. My parents loved small animals When this meek, quiet pre-teen bent down to pick up a tiny kitten, my parents were goners. They loved this girl, went to all her activities and kept my own three happy.

 

   When she attended college near them, she moved in. She and my dad were buddies. My parents became younger, more active. She wanted a horse; she got one. She wanted to attend a long trip with a college group. My parents paid for that excursion.

    My  dad died at 69 because he had a heart and and lung problem. Prior to Christmases in his last years,  he would tell me he might not be around the next Christmas. "The next heart attack I have will kill me" as it did several in his family. "But don't worry about your mother; I've taken good care of her." 

His left arm and shoulder began to hurt him daily. This was  before the miracle medicine or surgery that is used today. 

    Once he was late to pick this new child up on her return to somewhere on a hot summer day.

     Much later, she told me what she said  to my dad. "Do you know how hot it is? Why were you late?" And he apologized.

      I said, "You told all that to my dad?" (and more). He apologized, and again I was in shock.

She told me once my dad was the first man in her life she could trust and know he truly loved her. "I can run, jump in his lap, mess up his hair," and  she even made secret comments about someone in the room.

     I had much earlier given him a  mouton hat to wear when he milked in the cold. As he left one evening, this child said, "Now be sure to wear your favorite hat." Oh that look he shot her was priceless. 

   She called me on a Sunday night to tell me an ambulance had taken my dad to a hospital. My husband and I drove fast. but he had already died.

     Then we went to his house to tell our new daughter.  I looked in her deep brown eyes and did not have to say anything.

The main man in our life would not be returning.