The Junkyard Legacy

The Junkyard Legacy

by Bill High

My dad was a blue collar guy. He grew up in the Ozarks—deep in the Ozarks. It was “Deliverance” kind of stuff. He was poor, and our family was poor…. Really poor.

Most of cars we owned were a pile of rust and were on their last legs. It got to the point that we’d buy an old car, watch it break down and leave it in the front yard. We’d go buy another junker and cannibalize parts from the ones sitting in the yard. We had some pretty interesting cars to say the least.

I don’t remember air conditioning. We just drove with the windows down. Now keep in mind that we had six kids so it was a chore to get all of us in one vehicle.

My dad never did get a decent vehicle. He died when I was just 12. He died of cancer. He worked in the mines and the smoke and dust finally caught up with him along with his cigarette smoking ways. He woke up spitting blood and it took a good shot of whiskey to just get him breathing.

But for all that he wasn’t—namely wealthy, gentle, sober or lots of things, my dad gave me a great gift.

In all of our trials, he always made sure that my mom could stay at home. He wanted her to be there for us. She was there day by day waiting for us to get off the school bus. And if we had the money, well, she might have some cookies or chocolate cake ready to go.

She was the steadying force in our family. My dad was the dreamer whose dreams never seemed to work out.

We drove junk cars so my mom could be with us. It was his legacy: a mom who could stay at home.

And for that I’m grateful. I wonder today if some of us don’t need to write a letter to a parent and say thanks for the sacrifices they made, for the legacy big and small—even if it is a junkyard legacy?

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Published November 2, 2011

Topics: Lessons with Bill

Family StoriesLessons with Bill

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