A Tribute to Our Dad (as read at the service) Angie Horton Guffey September 20, 2009
Most of you here knew him as “Frank”, “Uncle Frank”, “Mr. Frank”, “Mr. Horton” or “Sunshine.” My sister and I knew him as “Daddy.” We knew as little girls that our daddy was someone special – who else would receive rousing choruses of “Happy Birthday” on every student gathering, or an office filled to the ceiling with balloons, a “Just Married” decorated car to drive his college aged daughters home from classes at LSU, or visits from “Billy and Bobby Bunny” at sunrise on Easter Sunday morning? He was the only dad the other teenagers liked and would eagerly talk to when we were in high school. Boyfriends did not want to disappoint him; our girlfriends always gave him hugs and a kiss on the cheek. Everyone in town knew him – the bag boys at the grocery store, the gas station attendants, the old women at the cash registers in the drug store or the cleaners. We knew he could lead the music at church revivals, tell the children’s sermons in worship, fill in for any pastor on leave or vacation or learn last minute lines for a play. We knew he had friends all over the world. We knew he was funny, compassionate, a cut-up, a deep thinker, a scholar, a musician, a politician, a referee, a counselor and a minister. We knew he loved God, his church, his country, his family. All these things, we knew, but we loved him best, as our daddy. He was the king and we, Angie and Patti, were his princesses.
He was the man who would do the laundry and press a perfect center seam in our blue jeans. He was the man who taught his little girls to dance by holding us as we placed our feet on top of his and jitterbugged or waltzed around the room. He was the man who, no matter how late or how tired he was, would listen to a young teenage daughter’s woes of love. He was the bad example when our mother would tell us to sit up straight, take our elbows off of the table and chew with our mouths closed. He was the man who would eat Pillsbury cookie dough out of the refrigerator in the middle of the night. He was the man who let the cat out first thing in the morning. He was the man who let his little girls have cats in the house even when he disliked cats. He was the man who would willingly go shopping for prom dresses and back to school clothes for his girls. He was the man who patiently taught us to drive in the empty parking lot of the LSU Tiger Stadium. He was the man who disciplined, even with an occasional spanking – we knew when he said “This hurts me more than it hurts you,” it was true.
He was the man who taught us to type, helped us with algebra and cheered when we got good grades. He was the man who forgave when we did wrong. He was the man who encouraged us to keep going to Sunday School, even when it was boring. He was the man who woke us at sunrise every Sunday morning with his favorite hymns, turned to top volume on the stereo. He was the man who would make tuna fish salad, lemon cream pies and frosty glasses of orange juice. He was the man who taught us the value of a nap on Sunday afternoons. He was the man who loved Christmas, and birthdays, Fourth of July and Easter, especially Easter. He loved Easter so much that he told us the truth about the Easter bunny by the time we were four years old. He was the man who always told us the truth, even when it hurt a little. He was the man who taught us the most about God, who taught us to pray, to study and learn about the Bible. He was the man who taught a houseful of women that a man could be trusted. He was a man who loved his wife, his mother, his mother in law, and his dear aunts. He loved his alcoholic father. He loved us all – even the sons-in-law who would take his daughters away from him.
I read a quote from Clarence B. Kelland the morning after his death, and I found, as his daughter, the words to fit the man I knew and loved so well, my dad:
“My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.”
I missed my dad when he could no longer talk, when the sparkle faded from his eye, when his energetic body could no longer move. I think of him now and I miss him, even though memories keep him alive in my thoughts and my every action. I miss him, but I am grateful. I miss him, but I am blessed.