A tribute to my Daddy, my hero ~ Mr. George Beauchamp Price
Birds chirping and the crunch under our feet were the only sounds heard as we’d take our Sunday walks into the woods. It was such a special time, one that I looked forward to and now one that I truly cherish. There we were…holding hands, my head held high while my ponytail bobbed back and forth, me in my golden high heels and looking up at him with a very proud smile. My Daddy, my hero, my first dance, my first love.
Some days we picked blackberries in the woods and on those days I would wear his boots over my shoes as I certainly didn’t want to meet a snake while wearing my beautiful golden high heels. We’d pick enough berries to bring back to Mother and she would make one fine cobbler to be enjoyed by all.
Other days we just held hands, walking and talking through the woods…and yes, in my golden high heels. It was there that I told him all about my friend named Duchess, she was imaginary. Walking by “her house” I would tell him all about the trouble she had gotten herself into at school. You see, Duchess was a real talker, she was ALWAYS getting into trouble for talking. In fact, the monitor usually had her name on the top of the list. On numerous occasions she had to write the sentence, “I shall not talk in class” hundreds of times. She would also get in trouble for not staying in her seat. When anyone was asked to go outside and dust the erasers for the chalk board, Duchess would always jump up hoping for any chance to go outside. That Duchess, she was a mess! Daddy listened as I would tell him ALL ABOUT her, everything she had been up to that week and he certainly heard a lot! Every time, he would share his opinion about how Duchess could better handle her energy and offer positive advice (for her, of course). It wasn’t until I was an adult that I found out that my Daddy knew all along that Duchess was really ME!
Daddy was the first person to ever dance with me. I carefully placed my golden high heels in the corner of the room so that I could stand on the tops of his feet. He moved back and forth as I looked up at that gentle giant. I am certain we looked like Frankenstein waltzing through.
Through the weekdays before school, Daddy would wake me while singing, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy…when skies are gray.” That’s a wonderful way for anyone to begin any day!
Saturdays were special too! I would hear the vacuum getting closer and closer to my bed as Daddy entered my room singing, “The Old Rugged Cross” (warming up for Sunday, I suppose). Daddy would finish vacuuming and then we were off to Marshall’s Filling Station to get gas for the week. Not only did the car need re-fueling on Saturday, so did I! It seems as though I would soak up just enough love and encouragement on weekends that would last me through the week.
Then on to Mincey’s Food Mart for groceries where I would run to the butcher counter and Mr. Bill would slice a chunk of cheddar cheese and hand it to me, always sharing a laugh. With cheese in hand, I’d head to my favorite aisle which was where the spinning toy rack was. I would carefully spin it until I saw them…those Golden High Heels! They were MAGICAL! Knowing how much I loved them, Daddy would say “yes” every single time! I would need a new pair at least every month because I would wear the new ones out very quickly. He would let me put them on as soon as he paid for them. We were still in the store and of course, I had to show them off to Mr. Mincey, Mr. Bill and all customers. I absolutely loved the way I felt in those Golden High Heels! When I would look down at them, they sparkled so much that Daddy said I sparkled! He reminded me that “real sparkle comes from your heart so always let others see your sparkle” he said.
While riding in the car, he would take advantage of that time together as well. When he would laugh at something I’d say, I loved it so much…I’d keep saying it and keep going with it. I loved making him smile. He’d say to others, “she’s like a bunny with a full battery, the more you laugh at her…the more she’ll keep you laughing!”
Dangling my sparkling feet from the front seat of the car, it seems that he needed something from West End Hardware just about every week. Of course I would proudly wear my Golden High Heels inside and I just loved hearing those creaking hardwood floors underneath them.
During our talks, Daddy would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said either a Maid or a Peeping Tom because I loved helping clean up and I enjoyed looking in other people’s houses. Daddy would always say to me, “you can do anything anyone else can do…some things you can do better yet you are no better than anyone else.” Of course if I were wearing those Golden High Heels, I knew I could do anything! Daddy was an encourager in every way, every day.
Saturday evenings we’d play “store” where I would open the pantry door and set my cash register on a little table. I would say to Daddy, “the store is open” and he would be my first (and only) customer. He would buy cans of food and crackers from my store (their pantry). I learned to set prices myself and count change. When the store closed, we’d play “Go Fish” and other card games. I wasn’t much for Monopoly because it took way too long.
A fashion show was always just around the corner. I would line up ALL my baby dolls and pull the sheers back from the large picture window in the living room to set the stage. I press play to hear the record on the stereo, prance through the living room under the arched foyer and quickly grab the drop cord from the vacuum cleaner and well, let’s just say you should have been there for the singing and dancing…in Golden High Heels, of course!
After several rehearsals, I’d go tell everyone to come see the fashion show. Daddy ALWAYS showed up!
Some days I would get to go to the textile plants with Daddy when he made his rounds. Everyone loved seeing him walk in holding my hand. Yes, I was either barefoot or in those Golden High Heels. I noticed that Daddy would speak to the people sweeping the floors the same way in which he spoke to those in suits and ties behind a desk. I didn’t notice any difference either as he explained that every position was necessary to run the plant. Everyone & every job was important.
My parents said I was born reaching out to others and helping others find their smile so they knew I would choose a career of serving. They were right, as a matter of fact…they were ALWAYS right! In 1975, I began working in healthcare and retired as a Surgical Practice Administrator in 2009.
Oh how I wished I were wearing those magical Golden High Heels on the day that Daddy was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. Once it was discovered, the cancer had already spread to over 70% of his body. Through this journey we traveled to unfamiliar territory and met with numerous healthcare teams way out of our comfort zone. Although most were very kind and caring…we encountered several who had zero compassion. In fact, the “last straw” was when someone stuck a yellow armband on Daddy’s wrist and told him that he would now be referred to as #325 as was on the yellow armband. That DID NOT SET WELL with me…not at ALL! I wanted to yell “he is nowhere close to being #325!” Daddy was afraid I was going to go across that counter…I wanted to but because of him, I refrained. As we sat down I took his hand in mine and said, “Daddy, I promise I will do everything I can to make a positive difference in the lives of others.” He said, “you already do.” In Daddy’s Memory, I continue that promise. For I wish to remember those who listened to us, those who got to know Daddy, those who wiped our tears, those who offered hugs and those who wept with us. Compassion costs nothing yet it means everything.
Once his journey was complete, I began telling his story and was soon invited to speak for hospital groups, healthcare management conferences and more. Word got around and as the invitations increased, I had to retire from my “real job” as Practice Administrator for a surgical practice where I had been employed for 32 years. I had a true story to share, one that shows how it feels to be on the other side of healthcare. A story that helps others who help others.
Today, it has expanded to not only healthcare but financial institutions, municipalities, food service industry, non profit organizations, civic groups and more. It seems that everyone can use a dose of kindness in their day. I’m so thankful to be in The People Business…still reaching out to others.
In addition to speaking for conferences, I am an “Undercover Guest” whereby from the other side of the counter…I discover ways in which companies can improve their guest experience.
Then my “Training Wheels in Heels” Program is scheduled onsite (yes, sometimes in golden high heels yet every time magical) and I will provide training based upon my findings. My focus is on praising the positive and applying polish where needed. There are a few of my “alter egos” sprinkled in as well that help to address some difficult issues. Their humorous approach creates a fun & lasting memory.
Today, looking in my rearview mirror, it’s easy to see how much my childhood plays a role in my future. From lining my baby dolls on the couch (audience), pulling the sheers open by a cord (stage) and grabbing that drop cord (microphone)…they were all dress rehearsals to what I do today. The fashion shows are used regularly, recruiting participants from the audience during the conferences. All while learning with laughter and just like Daddy said, “she’s like a bunny with a full battery, the more you laugh at her…the more she’ll keep you laughing!”
These precious memories along with many more will forever live in my heart. After all, the things that mean the most in life cost nothing at all. For I can’t remember the monetary gifts that my parents bought yet I will forever remember the time they shared.
The gifts that Daddy gave me are unforgettable. The love & laughter, encouragement, speaking the truth always, being accountable, strong work ethic, getting to know people without judging them, the importance of listening to my heart and doing the right thing.
Looking back, it seems it wasn’t those Golden High Heels that were magical after all, it was the Golden Moments, the precious time together that led to a heart full of Golden Memories of a Lifetime. “Priceless”.
Today, let’s all strive to be someone who encourages and uplifts others, feeds their passions and brings a special bit of magic to their day.
~ By Denise Price Thomas