Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Texas Tidbits: Dad, Me, The Cantaloupe and the Salt Shaker

I don't know much about Pecos, but I feel like I have been there a hundred times. As many of you know, my Dad was a trucker and he's the reason that, as a child, that I even knew Pecos existed. At the time, the company that Dad worked for only delivered in Texas and Pecos was the crown jewel of all the trips. We lived in Irving at the, so Dad drove out of the Dallas terminal, making Pecos the longest and best-paying trip Merchants (the company) had. I remember Dad saying 1000's of times, "I wish I could get a Pecos tonight". To me, a kid of 6 or 7, Pecos was in another world. It was 427 miles from Dallas! 427 miles!In West Texas! Wow! I had never been to West Texas at that time, so it sounded like a whole other planet. I knew East Texas very well by the time I was 6 or 7, Tyler, Gilmer, Betty, Thomas, Gladewater, Lindale and so on. But West Texas was in the desert! I imagined Pecos as the kind of place John Wayne would live. Cowboys, saloons, cattle, bad guys waiting for The Duke to come kick their asses or meet their Fate at the end of a rope. That is how I "knew" Pecos. For some odd reason, I also knew that Pecos was home to the World's 1st Rodeo . Why? Don't ask me. It's probably something I learned from Dad. Oh, yeah! Cantaloupes! Pecos was famous for cantaloupes! I learned that from Dad, too - probably over a Pecos cantaloupe split in half and a salt shaker, neither of us looking up from that melon while, carrying on a conversation about race cars or something similar. My Dad lived in Pecos for a while after my parent split up when I was about 10 or 11 years old. I remember him telling me of going to Mexico for what I guess now was a little "cultural exchange". He never did say, and I never asked. I started writing this post with the intention of sharing some history and general info about Pecos, but after I typed the first sentence, the memories of my Dad and his stories came to me in a flood of yesterdays. You know, I'm glad I wrote that first sentence. I have a big ass cantaloupe in the kitchen, I think I'll split it in half, grab a salt shaker and share the melon and some stories of my life with my little girl. Oh....and Dad, I'll tell her about you, me, the cantaloupe and the salt shaker.

Happy Birthday, Number 2 Son

My Bouncin' Baby Boy
April 27 is a very special day for me. It was on this very date in 1982 that I became a father for the second time with the birth of Number 2 Son, Toby Dillon Shoemaker. Toby came kickin' and screamin' into this world several weeks early at a mere 5 lbs 5 oz. Shortly after his birth, Young Tobe was placed in an incubator with so many wires hooked up to him, he looked an alternator for a '64 Chevy, although not nearly as heavy. I was the only new Dad at the NICU (Natal Intensive Care Unit) at the time and I was given a gentle knot on the head by the Good Lord, a dose of reality if you will. I wasn't sure if Toby was gonna go home with his mother and I or not. He was so tiny and helpless laying there just on the other side of the big plate glass window I was looking at him through. Worse, there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it. Talk about a feeling of helplessness. Hurry up and wait isn't one of my strong suits. Toby did come home a few days later weighing a hefty 4 lbs 13 oz. He was so small, I could cradle him in my arm like a football. It was something to behold, I'm tellin' ya.

I remember a few weeks (?) later when, on a clear starry night, I took Toby to the top of a big mesa just outside town. I held him up with my arms outstretched as far they'd go, my hands holding my son behind his neck and under his bottom reaching to touch the Face of God and I said out loud, "Behold, my Son...the only Thing greater than you". Just like in Roots. Ever since that time, Toby and I have had a spiritual connection that defies a simple worldly explanation. But I know the reason why it is so. God heard my payers while I was praying to Him for the health of my new son at the hospital a few weeks earlier. Toby, even as an infant, heard the voice of God tell him that he (Toby) and I would never be far from each others' hearts, no matter the circumstances. And despite some really tough times over the years, my son and I have never lost that supernatural ability to "feel" the other's love and commitment as Father and Son.

Toby D. is twenty-nine years old today and has a new family of his own - Faith and my three new grand children. Tobe's new family was ready-made for him, but he didn't miss a beat stepping into his new Tribe. He's is an excellent Dad and I hope (LOL) a great partner to Faith. My tiny 5 lb 5 oz baby boy is now a Man...and a damn good one. I couldn't be more happy for him.

Long ago and far away on a mesa top near Carlsbad, New Mexico, my Son beheld the only Thing greater than he and ause of that, I think, has been blessed since with unique and special qualities that make him a fine young Man today. On top of that, he got his good looks from me. :)

Happy Birthday, Son. Your Old man is mighty proud of you.

I love you.

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All Original Material © Toby Shoemaker