My daddy... Richard Ficklin Young, with a pile of children on his lap. I am the privileged one with half a lap to myself in this photo. My sister was an only child for almost two years when I came along. My brother followed me in 13 months, so sharing Daddy's lap was a necessity. Back in those days (when photos were still black and white), parenting roles were pretty black and white as well. Daddy went to work, mowed the yard and took out the trash and Mom did everything else including all the cooking, shopping, housework, gardening, sewing, helping with events at church and school and basically 100% of the direct child care.
My dad worked a lot of overtime to feed our growing family (three more brothers and one more sister came along) and my mom was busy all the time keeping it all going. Sometimes on Saturdays, we packed a picnic and we all went to the park. On rainy days, we would bring our picnic food to the front porch and play there. Times with my dad, playing on the front porch, were special times. He was always interested in my jump-rope rhymes, the turtles I collected with my brother Larry and the flowers I would pick from the clover in the back yard.
Every Sunday after church, we all piled into the car to travel the 20 miles of country roads to my grandparents' house. While my mom and my grandma got the Sunday dinner ready, us kids ran around the yard, climbed trees and caught grasshoppers with my Daddy and my Papa watching from the porch. After dinner, they would let us each take a turn cranking the ice cream freezer. When it was time to head back home, we all piled into the car again and my grandparents would come out to wave goodbye to us. My dad would always honk the horn until we turned the corner and were out of sight.
From my daddy, I learned to work hard and to be loyal. I learned to take joy in the simple things and learned to make the best of what I had. As the years passed and I grew up, I made a new life and a family almost 800 miles away and could not visit as often. My daddy was always happy when I went back to visit. He would say, "come back when you can" and go out to the driveway with my mom to see us off, no matter what time or temperature it was when we were pulling out of the driveway. Even if we were leaving at 5 am, we honked all the way down the street until we were out of sight.
I was with my daddy on his final day, talking and singing and praying with him as he crossed from this life to the next. I was blessed to have him in my life and it was a gift and a privilege to be by his side as he faded out of view.
I followed the hearse to the funeral home and sat for a few moments in the parking lot in the wee hours of the morning. When I drove away, I honked all the way down the street, in honor of my daddy. Someday, when we meet again in heaven, I have a feeling that my daddy will be there honking a horn for me ....