A Southern Gentleman, a tribute to my father
by Mary Kittrell
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A Tribute to My Dad
Grady Jefferson Scarbrough was born the middle son of a family of seven children, two brothers and four sisters. I never knew much about my fatherís childhood, or about his family, as I grew up. However, from what little I overheard as a child he had a hard life, working very hard and long hours for cheap wages. Dad was a simple man who did not finish school, only going to the third grade. In spite of his lack of formal education he read his Bible every day, and the daily newspaper.
Dad was a great carpenter and worked well with his hands. In the winter months his hands would crack and bleed. He was a perfectionist. He would tear anything apart that did not turn out right and rework it until it was just right, even if it was a chicken coup. Often Dad had to stay away from home when jobs were scarce, resulting in him having to travel to find work. After a hard weekís work, Dad would come home on Friday night. Saturday was a busy day working in the fields and garden to supply food for our family in spring and summer months. Winter months were busy times keeping firewood for the fireplace and wood burning heaters. On Sundays we went to church and rested until Dad had to leave, so he could be at his work site on Mondays.
Some people thought Dad was a hard man because he was a tough disciplinarian, but we knew we were loved and provided for. I never heard Dad say a curse word all of my life, and he had a generous heart. We might not have had the finest food, but we ate a healthy diet, raising most of what we ate. When meat was needed we killed a yearling for beef, or killed a hog for pork. We also had chickens, and we used the fresh eggs they laid. Our milk and butter came from our farm. Dad would sell the surplus to help make ends meet.
Dad never made tracks anywhere a small child could not follow. We were allowed to hunt wild game, but we had to make each shot count. Never were we allowed to hunt on Sundays. We fished a lot on Saturday afternoons, but never on Sunday. Dad would say everything needed a rest. He was a great conservationist. He taught us to love the land and respect it.
Dadís favorite clothes were overalls; carpenter overalls for work on the job and blue denim ones for work at home. On Sundays he wore Khaki pants and a dress shirt to church.
At the age of thirty-one Dad married Mom. She was a twenty-seven year old bride. Because of their ages, as a child I thought Mom and Dad were old people. When I became an adult I realized they were very wise people. Things my brother and I were taught by them included how to work and provide for our needs. Most importantly, we were taught about God. I learned how to milk cows. I learned to feed the mules, hogs, chickens, dogs, and cats. Dad taught me how to split firewood and draw water from the well. These were all daily chores to do before and after school when Dad was away from home working. Momís health had deteriorated too much for her to help with those chores. She managed to keep the house, cooking, and sewing for the family. Dad taught me how to plow in the fields along with him and harvest the crops. My brother was ten years older than me and was busy raising his own family by then. Mom, Dad, and I would go to town once a week to buy the items we could not raise, stopping along the way to sell eggs and vegetables to his customers. This provided money for gasoline and the items we needed to buy.
Some neighbors thought we were rich, and we were, but not by monetary standards. The most money I ever knew Dad to have in his hand was approximately five hundred dollars. That was what he handed over to the doctor and hospital to pay for Momís surgery. Dad paid it in full with that cash. Being broke after that, Dad had to find extra work to pay the other bills. I wore hand-me-downs and re-made dresses for a while after that, but I never knew any shame in this. I always looked as neat as anyone else in school or church.
During the summer months there would always be a revival at church. On the last day of the revival Dad would go to the field and gather corn and any vegetables that were ready to eat. This was sent home with the preacher who was the chosen evangelist for the revival. There would always be enough for the preacher to feed his family for a week. This was above and beyond tithes and offerings. We were taught to be generous and share our blessings with others.
At the age of seventy four Dad went home to the Lord. He left a lot of footprints for his children to follow, but none of these lead to any place we should not go. I hope and pray that when my life is finished my children can be able to say I left a clear path for them to be able to follow; a path that will lead them to good works and to the Lord. Dad, I love you, and I cherish the memories you left behind.
Mary Evelyn (Scarbrough) Kittrell
© 2007 Mary E. Kittrell
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Mary, I just read your article. I must say that I was touched by what you wrote.I am glad there are people like you who remained steadfast in the ways you were taught.You are a very special lady and a jewel in God's crown.I would sure like to read some more of your writing one day.You are a true Southern Steel Magnolia.
Thanks for the memory Mary. There were some cherished moments in there for me as I looked back on my life with my grandparents. They left me much treaured footprints that guide me right back to my Saviour - Jesus Christ. Much love and blessings. Jan.
What a wonderful heritage you had, wish that all our children could be taught the same wonderful ideas. May God keep blessing you!!