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Remembering Daddy on Father's Day

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By NANCY MATTHEWS

It was a day like any other workday.
I woke up around 6 and was messing around the house, getting ready . . . and the phone rings.
“Something’s wrong with your daddy,” Mama said.
After talking to her a few seconds, I found out he was hurting in his back. I could hear him over the phone, groaning. She had already called my younger brother, Bertram, who lives up the road from them.
“I’ll call an ambulance,” I said and hung up.
After calling 911, I called her back and Bertram was there.
My husband Steve and I met them at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Lexington.
They started to work on Daddy immediately after getting him into the emergency room. I didn’t realize it then, but I guess they had an idea what was wrong.
Mama kept asking him where it hurt.
“I don’t feel like talking honey,” he said as gentle as he could, even though he was in such pain.
I’ve seen my Daddy with a crushed leg where a tree fell on him while getting wood for my grandmother, Emolyn Searcy, along with Mama and my uncle, Bobby Searcy.
I’ve seen him with a broken nose where he was hit in the face with a rock while bush hogging. I’ve seen him with a broken left hand he got when he was greasing a pulley on the back of the tractor and it took his hand through it, plus various other things.
But I had never seen him when he seemed to suffer so.
“This is it. It’s all over,” he said.
The doctors were going to do some tests, so Steve and I went out in the lobby to make some calls. I happened to have a business card of Gene Koons, minister of Corinth Christian where Mama and Daddy attended. Bro. Koons has since died.
I talked to his wife, Sharon, and told her I didn’t really know what was going on. I thought Daddy might have kidney stones but wasn’t sure. She said keep them informed.
Next thing I knew, Bro. Koons was walking into the lobby. Next person I saw was Matt Sawyer, then-associate minister at Corinth. He is now the minister.
I called the News office and told them what was going on, and that I didn’t know if I would be in or not. I was supposed to fill in for one of the girls that day, but she had to come in.
Daddy couldn’t get warm. I had the nurses put two warmed blankets on him. The pain medicine wasn’t working, but they said it had to catch up with the pain. I guess he’d been in pain all night. It finally eased a little.
I called our brother, Robert. They came on over to the hospital. Bertram called our brother, Richard, in Virginia. He kept his phone handy.
Next thing the doctor told us was Daddy had an aortic aneurysm ready to burst. He had a 50-50 chance if they did surgery, none if they didn’t, so they took him to emergency surgery.
It was about an hour after we had settled into the waiting room when the volunteer at the desk asked the Buntain family to go to the counseling room.
“This is not good,” I told my sister-in-law, Kim. “This is not good.”
And it wasn’t. Our worst fears were realized.
The doctor said they caught the artery in time, but daddy’s heart was too weak.
That was Oct. 1, 2009. It still hurts. Tears stream down my cheeks just about every time I think of Daddy, as they are now. I miss him a lot.
I miss how he used to be so proud that he could catch a wasp between his calloused fingers and it couldn’t sting him.
How he used to tell stories at the breakfast table and about half way through, I’d say, “This was a dream wasn’t it?” And we’d all laugh.
I loved to hear him tell stories about the old days. Things they would do, mules they had and how they worked. Sometimes he’d just be telling something at the dinner table on Sunday and he and I’d look at each other and just bust out laughing.
He had his faults like everybody else, but he had mellowed in his later years.
He could be tough as nails, but as tender hearted as they came, too.
The week he died, Steve and I had spent some time with them on Tuesday. We’d take them to Shelbyville. Daddy and Steve sat in the truck and talked while Mama and I got groceries. I was so glad for that.
My daddy was tired, oh so tired. He was 86 and had worked hard all his life. That’s what he liked to do. He had worked on the tractor the day before he died.
He was only afraid of one thing — something happening to Mama. Other than that, I never saw him afraid of anything.
Mama worried about him all the time, but I have heard him tell her many times that he wasn’t afraid to die. If it was his time, it was his time.
I didn’t know when I started out that morning that Daddy wouldn’t be coming home anymore.
Sunday is Father’s Day. Be sure to talk to your mom and dad this weekend.
Better yet, get in touch with them now. You may not have them tomorrow.

Janie Bowen is a receptionist for The Anderson News.