November 04, 2022

My Dad

Charles D. “Pedro” Williams, MD, FACR

My dad is proud of me. I know he is. I saw it in his tears when I graduated from high school. He would have been just as proud of me if I had stayed in Moultrie, GA, and farmed. There are times that I wished I’d stayed and taken my place with the home folks. I know now that it wouldn’t be the same if I went back. Now Pedro has different shingles on his roof.

To me, dad was a giant, but he was the tallest when he was on his knees. I saw a side of daddy that most folks couldn't see. Six days out of seven he was up before dawn. He was a simple, hard-working country man trying to make a living, but he was at his best when his hands were in the soil.

Dad was one of seven kids, including Millard, Dillard and Willard. Grandpa died of the Spanish flu, and we lost the farm. Grandma Williams moved to somebody else's rundown farm to try sharecropping (tenant farming) with her seven kids. Grandma was gettin' the farm lookin' halfway decent when a friend from the Baptist church dropped by and said, "You, yore young'uns, and the good Lord shore got this place lookin' good." Dad replied, "You should have seen it when the good Lord had it by Himself."

Dad tried to teach Pedro right from wrong. He didn't know big words or hard words, but he seemed to know what was important and what was not. He was smart enough to know when it was too wet to plow. He knew that you couldn't chase two rabbits at the same time and he knew that you shouldn't step over a log that you couldn't see the other side of. He also knew that a person didn't have to hang from a tree to be a nut.

Dad taught Pedro a whole lot. He taught Pedro to wash up before supper, to eat his green beans, to thump watermelons for ripeness, that BB guns could put your eyes out and never to sass mama. He wanted Pedro to go off to college and get a “dilemma” to hang on his wall.

Dad didn't have any schoolin', but he did help Pedro grow up. He raised Pedro right and he raised Pedro happy. Pedro got grown and found out that he was also raised poor and that he wudn't supposed to have been that happy.

Dad also taught Pedro to stay between the ditches and out of people's hen houses. One time, a neighbor had been messing around in someone else's hen house and got shot. The doctor said he’d been shot between the hepatic flexure and the diaphragm, but Pedro said he’d been shot between the hog pen and the barn. Grandma said we were both right.

Dad hardly ever left Georgia, but he did leave when he fought in World War II at the Battle of the Bulge, when he went to see Hank Williams sing in Nashville and when he went to see Pedro during his radiology residency at Baylor in Houston. Even though he didn't travel much and never got formally educated, he did learn to say, "thank you" and "yes, ma'am" and "please." He also learned to give a dollar's worth of work for a dollar's worth of pay.

My dad never gave a great speech and never learned to conjugate a verb. However, I'm proud of my dad. I think he knows it. I think he saw it in my tears the night he got sick. And I think now I will tell him, “I love you, dad.”