Remembering the gift of a million dollar father

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 3, 2005

This week marks a milestone in our family. On Thursday, 85 years ago to the day, a little tow-headed boy named Joseph Lamar Killough came into the world in a Victorian farmhouse near Honoraville.

40 years and some three weeks after that momentous occasion, Joe welcomed a two-headed girl into the family, daughter number three.

You might say I was his mid-life baby, undeniably a Killough, with delicate skin and odd-looking feet that were miniatures of his own.

Daddy – and Mama – worked hard on the farm so my sisters and I could have the important things: food, shelter and clothes on our backs, certainly, but also something more than the essentials.

He and Mama wanted us to have a good education.

Daddy dropped out of high school in the 10th grade. Those early, early mornings spent milking the cows, slopping the hogs and performing other farm chores left him little time or energy for his studies. So he decided to quit.

He would have been devastated, however, if any of us had decided to toss aside our schoolwork.

Both our parents simply expected their daughters to do their best in each class and make the most of the opportunities not every child in the world was given.

And so money from the sale of cattle and hay and chickens went toward the purchase of books – lots of them – and sheet music, piano lessons and art supplies, all those things that made life a more interesting, broader experience for us.

Even though we lived out in the country, Daddy would see we got to band practice, play rehearsals and sessions spent building homecoming floats.

His girls might be country girls, but they would be able to keep up with those "city chicks" just fine, he'd say with a grin.

He was always proud of our accomplishments and delighted in the fact we all got our college degrees, graduating with honors.

He might not, as he often said "give a dime for another one of us." Still, he always added, "I wouldn't take a million dollars for one of my girls."

My father could be hard headed, irascible, and absolutely maddening at times.

He could also be one of the most generous, funny and delightful people you could ever met.

I wouldn't take a million dollars for a different dad.

Somehow, I hope he knows that.

Angie Long is Lifestyles reporter for The Greenville Advocate. She can be reached at 382-3111 ext. 132 or via email at angie.long@greenvilleadvocate.com.