Julie Lyles Carr: Hero

Thursday, April 8, 2010


school pics
That cute little guy up there?

He's got a big, big birthday coming up.

I won't mention the actual numeric value of said birthday.

Because he might just pinch me the next time I see him.

But to suffice it to say, it's big.

That's my daddy.

Born in the deep South a, ahem, few decades ago, my dad's stories of his upbringing on a small farm could mesmerize my younger brothers and me. When we would travel back to Mississippi during the summers, we would often go to the land where his childhood home had once stood, stand at the edge of the pond where he and his brother would fish and shoot BBs at turtles. The concrete steps to the house still stood in their original position, stairs to the air of where the threshold had been.

Mom & Dad & Mississippi House we Built
When times got hard at the farm, the family would pack up and head to the Gulf Coast, my grandfather taking work in the shipyards. Rural and coast, ponds and ocean. The set scenes for my father's early life.

Daddy, Leroy, Carnie, Diane & Bob
I suppose this is the part where I should tell of his strong desire for education, his 'up by his own bootstraps' efforts to gain a college education, master's degrees, PhD work, his time spent in the aerospace industry. It's a great biopic.

school pics2
But I just keep coming back to these pictures, to this little boy in his overalls, to the tough times into which he was born and into the simple decency and integrity of his parents' home. Heroes aren't born; they're made. And this hero in my life was built from the red dirt of central Mississippi and the salt air of the Gulf Coast. Because in all the experiences and adventures his life has taken us on as a family, he's always worked the dirt of our backyards to yield tomatoes and roses and always delighted in a big plate of shrimp. It's part of his DNA. To work hard, to tell the truth, to try your best, to accept responsibility, to set goals, to try harder, to be thankful for what you have.

The recipe for heroes.

Happy Birthday, Daddy. You're my hero. And I love you.


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