Saturday, November 2, 2013

to my daddy on his birthday.

Most kids didn't get the same upbringing that I experienced as a child. I had the greatest privilege of having a stay at home dad beginning in elementary school. Even then, it was still a little odd for many families to have a mom who worked and dad who stayed home, but that was how things worked out in our family. I never realized, until recently, how special that setup would mean to me. You see, today my dad turns 68 years old. Since I'm just 26, you can see how my dad was (and is) considerably older than most of my friends' dads. 

I used to think that this was a very bad thing. Then I realized that I had a brain and changed my mind. I realized that dad got to stay home with me, come to all my school performances and games, and had ample time to teach me to swing a bat or throw a ball outside. I got the benefit of having an "older dad" in all the best ways. Where my friends' dads weren't around a lot because of work, I had a dad who had retired when I was young and could give me all the time in the world. 

If there's a downside... it's the fact that my dad is the same age as my husband's grandparents now. Every time he makes mention of a worry of them passing away, my gut drops to think about my daddy. Where some of my friends think about their parents being great-grandparents one day, I dream and hope to have my dad be a grandfather to my kids. I could sit and worry and fret all the time, or I can do what I'm doing now... and be so thankful and blessed to have spent 26 amazing years with my dad and to have more time together in those years than a lot of daughters get with their fathers. 

So on this 68th birthday of William Oscar Craig... I would like to highlight some of the best moments, favorite memories, and things I love about my daddy. 

My dad is a southern man to the core. We're not talking boots and cowboy hats, but we are talkin growin up in a house with a dirt floor, no electricity, and takin care of animals on the farm type of southern. Dad is "old school" to say the least and is proud of his roots. One of dad's funniest jokes (that he didn't know he was making) was when he told the family how he sold his pig on the farm to buy his family their 1st color TV. Daddy still does not own a cell phone.

Is there a bigger razorback fan than my father? It's highly doubtful. Our family spent our Saturday's watching the hogs on TV or at the stadium in the Fall, our winters full of hog basketball in Bud Walton, and springs/summers listening for those crackin bats at Baum. I can vividly remember the night we won the 1994 NCAA Basketball Championship. I ran out of our house screaming and yelling, and I think where most people in the neighborhood thought I was a strange 7 year old girl, dad couldn't have been prouder of his hog lovin daughter. 

Growing up, dad had an old blue Izuzu pup truck. There were many times where he, Casey and me would squeeze in and ride together. Of course, I got the middle seat, and one of the best memories I have is moving the stick shift like I was really driving the truck. It wasn't until I got older and realized that I only had my hand on the stick, and dad was moving my hand to shift.

Speaking of cars, there's not a time I can remember my father coming to pick us up, take us home, or pulling in the driveway when his radio wasn't blaring full blast. Imagine the teenager's embarrassment of their father coming to get them in front of all their friends blaring "Fat Bottomed Girls," and you knew it was only going to get worse when you opened the door to get in.

My dad is a pretty quiet guy, not known for being extremely loud. He's very talkative and has never met a stranger, but he's not a "loud" type... until he gets to sporting events. Yes, my dad was "that dad" at the game, yelling at the Ref/Ump, yelling at one of us playing, or just yelling. I could always hear my dad in the stands when I batted or when either of my siblings was out playing. Let's just say there may or may not have been a time where dad got thrown out of a softball game/entire ballpark for yelling a little too much.

My dad is very thoughtful. Growing up, there were always flowers on the table that he had picked up for our mom, brought me treats to school when I was having a bad day, and he pretty much always made us "stuff" when we asked him ("Stuff" is a special recipe made only by my dad. It includes peanut butter and other sweet and fattening things - perfect for emotional teenage girls). On my birthday this year, dad pulled me aside and said, "Well, I know how much you like elephants... so I figured you'd probably like this." Nothing loud and showy - just a sweet and thoughtful gift he pulled down from his closet to give to me. When I asked him where he got this amazing bronze elephant statue, he said, "Oh, I picked it up when I was in Bangkok... I had one about 5 times the size of that, but I dropped it in the water when I was getting on the ferry... I dove in and looked for that thing for probably half an hour and never found it." There's always a story.

Oh yeah - I left out a pretty big part of my dad's story: He was a NAVY SEAL and served in the Vietnam War (hence the elephant from Bangkok). As a little girl, you take pride in your dad's ability to be able to beat up other dads... it's just what you do. They protect you, and you think about who they could save you from. I didn't have much fear of anyone hurting me when my daddy was around. Knowing that your dad went through SEAL training and fought in a really ugly war, you take pride in feeling protected and taken care of. Dad can also swim like a fish (go figure). Growing up, swimming was the best because daddy could hold his breath for so long and stay down on the bottom of the pool for forever.

(There are lots of war stories... some daddy hasn't and probably won't ever tell us, maybe anybody. We do get to hear the R&R stories. That's a separate blog post I may write in the future, with his permission. Let's just say that you shouldn't punch the Burgermeister in a German bar, even if he takes a swig of your boot).

You'd think all that training and military expertise would make my dad a fairly coordinated and agile man. I cannot count the number of times my dad has banged his head on anything and everything around. Closet rods, doors, cabinets, walls, etc etc etc. Daddy seems to always have a wound on the top of his head. There was also this one time at Sunday lunch after church where Dad was telling a story to another table about a football game, threw his hands up in the air shouting "TOUCHDOWN," and nailed the sweet Chinese waitress in the face with his elbow. It was funny until we realized she really did get hurt.

Dad has also had a whole lot of falls: down the stairs in the house we grew up in (with the laundry basket nonetheless), down the icy sidewalk at the neighbor's after putting their newspaper on their doorstep, and that one time he was home alone and decided to cut branches off the tree in the backyard... his ladder moved and inched off the tree, leaving him hanging on this branch until he finally had to just let go and fall. He gets irritated with us laughing about these falls, but I'm crying while I type this I'm laughing so hard. Love you, daddy :)

Dad is also known for his little sayings. Here are just a few.
When asked how he's doing:
"If I was any better, I'd need a twin." 
"If I was any better, I'd have to take something."

When asked if there's anything else he needs (restaurant, etc):
"How bout a shoebox full of $100 bills?"

When threatening someone else who is starting a fight (ex: us kids) :
"You'd rather french kiss a rattlesnake"
"That'd be your second mistake today"
"There ain't but 2 things stoppin you..." (fear and common sense)
"You gotta sleep sometime"
"I outta bust your chops"

When ordering food:
"Yunyins" (onions)
"Me-gium" (medium)

When yelling at his kids playing sports:
"Keep your elbow up"
"Keep your shoulder up"
"You're dropping your shoulder"
"Keep your eye on the ball"

When meeting anyone in particular:
"Where ya from?... I'm from Central Arkansas in a little town called Beebe."

When talking to younger folks:
"When was the last time you had your ass kicked by a 68 year old man?"

When giving me away on my wedding day:
"I give her to you. You take care of her... 'cause if you don't, I'll tie your ass in a knot."

I am really good at giving good gifts. A good gift requires a simple thing: meaning. It has to mean something to the receiver of the gift. Dad has given me one of the greatest gifts I've ever gotten....


It wasn't until I got older that I realized where my love of music comes from. Dad has ALWAYS had music playing and not just any music... GOOD music. I'm a 26 year old gal who can sit for hours and listen to classic rock and oldies like I lived in that era. Gimme some Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Three Dog Night, Steve Miller Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jackson Brown, ELO, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Billy Joel, Joe Cocker, any Motown, Fleetwood Mac, Boston, Foreigner, CCR, Chicago... and on and on it goes -- and I'll be the happiest girl around. There's something so sweet and special to me that my dad blessed me with the love of music from a realllllly early age. I remember rides in his truck with him always asking, "Who's this, Carrie?" when a song came on the radio. I'd venture to say that dad passed on his love of music to us kids, and I know that I'm proud to have such an eclectic taste. These songs will be something that remind me of daddy for the rest of my life.

I think what I love about my dad more than anything, though... is that fact that he's a changed man. Have you ever met someone whose life had truly been changed? I've only known my father the past 26 years, and he's pretty much been the same man; however, before I was a blink of an eye, my dad was different. He would be the first to say that he wasn't living a good life, not making good decisions, and not planning for a future that was anything worth having. It means something to me that I've had grown men come up to me as I was becoming an adult myself and say that my dad has been the only person they've ever known who has ever turned his life completely around when they thought there wasn't any hope of change. It speaks to the character of my father now, but it speaks even more so to the grace and redemption God brings. My dad was touched and changed by the grace of God.

That change allowed me to have the childhood and upbringing that I did. I was blessed to have a father who was present and engaged with his kids, who didn't drink or do drugs. My dad was and is a loving and thoughtful father. The change in his life changed mine. There actually probably would be no Carrie Anne if William Oscar hadn't turned his life around... and I wouldn't be the same person if he hadn't continued being that same good man all my life. I know there are probably many people who gave up on my dad and some other people who didn't. My deepest and heartfelt gratitude goes out to those who didn't. My life would have been dramatically different if you had lost hope. My greatest thanks goes to God Himself, who is the only reason I'm able to type out my love for and warm memories of my daddy and his life. God has blessed me overwhelmingly with this amazing dad of mine, and I am unbelievably thankful that God's goodness and mercy hunted my father down and left him a changed man.

There are so many other parts and stories and memories and things I love about you, dad... too many to ever get down on paper. You have been my biggest hero and quiet strength all of my life. I take pride in a few titles in my life. Very few can match the honor I have of being called your baby girl.

I love you, Daddy.
Happy Birthday.

im thankful.
carrie anne

As usual, let's get some pictures to tell more of this story (prepare yourself - they are excessive).

Me trying real hard to try and look like my daddy.

Who has a dad this cool?

First picture with Bella Marie.

Bella and Pops
Best Buds.

Silly daddy.

Forgive the poor quality. This is Daddy's family -- parents and siblings.

Wedding Day.

Man's man.
LOVE that Navy Uniform!!!  Weak spot for sailors

Classic photo op with Daddy, Casey, and me

Here's the typical 1990's family.


"Casper" -- nickname from Navy days (("Kojak" was another))

"At home" navigating the boat.

Siblings :)
Our first picture together.