Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Random Thoughts About My Father
This is a picture of my dad, Paul Martin Goff, born June 12, 1927. Dad was the fifth of six children, born to Andrew M. Goff and Nellie Hughes. The back of this picture says 1950, and I think it may be in front of the cabin in the Smokies where Mum and Dad stayed on their honeymoon. It appears he was reading a map, something of a foreign concept to the man I knew.
My dad was always neat. He wore only certain kinds of clothes, and the only time he wore blue jeans was when he was working. He has more hair in this picture than he ever had after I came along. There are more pictures of his wavy auburn hair, but I remember that he kept it very short.
Dad was one of a kind. I'm sure everybody says that about their parents, and I'm certain that in all cases it is true. Dad was a strict Southern Baptist. My parents insisted that I was in church every time the doors were opened, and as a teenager, I balked consistently and was consistently overpowered!
Dad loved his bluegrass music. He would drag me around to bluegrass festivals, and I didn't really learn to appreciate the music until I was up into college and recognized what an art it truly is. Since my grandfather played several different instruments, dad always encouraged my music. He bought me a guitar when I was about seven and a 5-string banjo when I was 9. He bought me a flute when I was old enough to join the school band. He paid for voice lessons. Ha, I think if I had just listened to Dad more often, I could have learned how to sing just from hearing him do it. He was an awesome singer, even if the only song he ever sang all the way through was, Froggie Went A-Courtin'!
Dad worked for the railroad for 37 years! The longest I've ever been on a job is five. He loved trains, and after he retired, he would buy and watch all these videos of different trains around the country. I used to tease him that the trains weren't really moving, they just moved the background. He'd get so ticked, and I'd laugh and laugh.
I was an only child, and I was definitely Daddy's little girl in every sense of the concept. Dad brought home my first cat when I was two! It was a black and white cat that he brought in under his railroad jacket. It had a litter of kittens, and he took all of them off, including the mother, except for two little grey ones. Then he accidentally ran over one of those with his car!
He also raised collies. We had one collie that he named Boy, and Boy was my buddy. One time I made my mom really angry, and I couldn't have been more than five or six years old. Well, I knew my mom was going to spank me, so I let Boy loose, and he cornered my mom between the propane gas tanks and the back wall of our house! I was standing back saying, "Good Boy! Yeah!" My mom was yelling at the dog and me, and when Dad got home from work, he was pretty livid. I remember that particular spanking, and I never tried that trick again. (It is pretty funny though, isn't it?) We had lots of different dogs, including a beagle named, Peanuts, and a toy poodle named Trampy.
I miss my dad more than I could ever express. When he passed away on August 13, 2005, time stood still for a long while for me. Paul Martin Goff had fought a twenty year battle against cancer. He had lost his voice to carcinoma in 1986. He fought diabetes, skin and prostate cancer. In 2002, we thought we were losing him to congestive heart failure, when a wonderful doctor finally suggested sending him to the University of Kentucky for an experimental defibrillator. By God's grace, that defibrillator bought him five more years of life. In fact, Dad used to tell people, "I've got the kind of defibrillator Dick Cheney's got, only mine is better, on account it came from the University of Kentucky!"
He fought small cell and non-small cell lung cancer valiantly and with great strength and dignity, not that there is much dignity in dying. When he breathed his last breath, Mum and I were both at his side. I remember telling him in those final hours, "Dad, when you meet your gg-grandfather, (whom we call Richard 1810,) will you tell him to send me some clues?" He was really sick and in a lot of pain, but he laughed and promised to do it. I'm still waiting for the clues, so maybe he hasn't met him yet. Maybe he's still at the feet of Jesus praising Him for the fact that Paul Martin Goff has his voice back.