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Dear Daddy

3 December 2008 9 Comments

Well... it's been 30 years since you left this ole world.  December 4th, 1978, God decided your time on earth was done.  At 50 years old, you left way too early.  Everybody always says God has his reasons for taking good people.  I wish i knew what those reasons were.  Being 13 years old when you left, i don't have too many memories.  The ones i do have i occasionally play over in my mind from time to time.  They were all good memories other than a few that i have of me getting into trouble and i can only remember a couple of those so i must have been a pretty good kid?  The memories i have are pretty much along the lines of baseball and fishing and that sort of thing.  I know you were my coach or at least always participated when i played baseball.  I remember you showing me how to throw a knuckle ball and we had our little "sign" for you to tell me when to throw that special pitch during the game.  I never did get the hang of baseball too much, but i tried my best.  You always took me fishing and i remember a few of the places we went.  I also remember you taking me to shoot guns at the old abandoned Gwyn Mansion as it was called.  Even as i type this i can think of other things i haven't thought of in a long time....  sitting on your lap on the front porch watching it rain.  Going to Granny's after church Sunday night to eat left overs.  I wish i had more memories...

For some reason it was so much harder when you died than when mama died.  I guess at 10 i didn't really understand.  I do remember Bobbie driving to the hospital and she started crying.  That's when i realized it was pretty serious.  I remember them letting me come in to see you for the last time and i gave you a kiss.  I don't remember how much time pasted from that moment until you died, that's all a blur to me.  I just remember being at Bo's house and everyone coming in crying saying you had died.  I remember feeling so lonely at that moment and i remember just walking out and walking towards our house out the road.  I remember it was raining and i just walked and cried.

I've always wondered what it would have been like if you had been here all these years.  You would have turned 80 this year on July 1st.  Wow, just trying to imagine how things would have been is hard to even perceive.  There were so many times in my life i needed advice and direction.  I know Bobbie and Phil did the best at something they didn't even have to do when they took me in, but i always wondered what it would be like growing up with a daddy.  I can't imagine how lost you felt when mama died 3 years before you did.  I know the hurt and pain i've dealt with at times has been almost unbearable, so i can't imagine how you felt when you lost mama after being together so many years.  I've tried to make the best decisions, but i've failed a lot.  Not that i would have never made a mistake if you were here, but i just wish i could have come to you, or called you and said, daddy i need to talk, i need some advice.  I wish i could have watched you grow old and i wish you could have met my daughter and my grandson.  I would have loved for you to have met Misty, i know you probably already know, she is my Angel!

I don't know what all you see or know from Heaven, but i hope i've made you proud more times than not.  I know it was so hard to let you and mama go.  Mama dieing when i was 10 and you dieing when i was 13, i felt lost for so many years.  For years i couldn't even think or talk about a father and his son without crying or getting depressed.  I can remember seeing a tv show or commercial or just talking to someone, and if there was a scene or a mention of a dad and his son, i would just lose it.  With all the crap i went through in my marriage and other things in my life, i came to a low point to where i was ready to give up.  I remember i was in counseling at that point in my life, dealing with everything i was going through.  I remember leaving the counselor and driving up 52 and i just had a nice long talk with God.  I told God i needed to let you go, not the memories, just the hurt.  I couldn't deal with it any longer.  I don't think i've ever cried that hard in my life.  At 32 years old, i finally let you go.  I felt as though a million bricks had been lifted off me that day.  For the first time in my life i could think about you, talk about you and remember you with a smile on my face and not cry.

I remember sitting at lonestar one time a few years back.  There were some people sitting close by and they got to talking about tattoos and it gave me an opportunity to show the one i have on my arm of your sheriff's badge.  And it gave me an opportunity to talk about you.  There was a younger girl there that had just lost her dad and when i told her about losing you, i could see the hurt on her face.  She walked up and asked me how i dealt with it, i told her that it took me 19 years to let go.  She said, "do you mean it's going to be that hard?" and i said, "i mean it's going to be OK!"  I don't know why i always remember that conversation....  it just seemed to give her a piece of mind?  I was glad i could be strong for once, for somebody that was going through the same thing.

I love talking to the older guys at work that either worked with you or played ball with you many years ago.  Everyone always has the nicest things to say about you.  I always feel so proud!  They tell about you all having raffles at work for knives and different things.  In those days you all would take a target and shoot at it, and whoever got closest to the bulls eye would win.  I'm told that they put blanks in the gun once, and you got so upset because you were such a good shooter and couldn't figure out why you were missing the target!  They still talk about that here at work.  One guy told me you must have had an iron stomach, because you all would come in to work in the mornings and you would pick up the coffee pot and take a drink of coffee that had been there from the day before.  Others worked for you and have nothing but great stories and wonderful memories.  I hope when i'm gone on, others will have as good of memories of me as your friends have of you.  You were a special man!

I miss you daddy, i really miss you!  I wish i could just talk to you for a minute, just hear your voice or hear you laugh.  I wish i could hug your neck and go to breakfast with you.  I wish we could go hunting or fishing, or take a ride on the parkway.  I wish i could sit and listen to you talk about the old days and how things were.

In the short time you were my daddy, you were the best daddy ever.  I wouldn't trade those 13 years for anything.

Leroy Leftwich  1928-1978

Go Rest High

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  • Misty said:

    Wow…this is deep. I’m crying like a baby. I love you Jeff and I can’t imagine losing my parents. You are a strong man, I admire your strength and also the courage you have to talk about such a big loss. I would’ve loved to meet your Dad, Mom and Granny.
    ~I love you with all my heart and soul.


  • Big Sis said:

    Well said, little brother. I’m absolutely positive that daddy knows we’re all thinking of him today and how much we love and miss him.


  • phizzle said:

    Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. -Psalms 116:15

    Why do we cry when people die
    why does God take those we love
    why does the hurt last so long
    why does it all come back with a song

    they say God keeps the best for Himself
    in your case He got what he wanted
    the best has never been so good
    though I’d like to have to you back if I could

    i know you’re better where you are
    and wouldn’t trade it for the world
    but I wish I could have known you better
    then maybe I wouldn’t wear my hurt like a sweater

    your life down here was too short
    though your character was known all too well
    i can only hope to be half of who you were known to be
    so when I see you again you can be proud of your bobbie

    life is way to hard to live these days
    i’m jealous that you are with Christ
    but I’m glad to know that because of the cross
    your death is just a trip and not a loss.

    Miss you, love you, wish I knew you more Papa Leroy

    Sparky (phizzle)


  • Big Sis said:

    Daddy would have been so proud of you both – “Jake” and “Sparky”.


  • anita said:

    Our daddy was the best man in the world. He was my hero. I have so many memories of him. He taught me shoot as well. We’d go out the road from where granny used to live and he’d let me shoot all his pistols. He had a huge gun collection.

    I remember mama telling him she hated having all those guns and daddy replied, “well, if someone were to break in you would at least have enough to throw at them for awhile”.
    He had a great sense of humor. I was never close to my mom. Still don’t know why to this day. But, that’s another story for another time. This is for daddy.

    Our dad always made time for each of us kids one on one. That’s shows how great he was, instead of taking all of us kids he would take us each alone with him and it was great.

    My first time fishing with him was at this lake off 52, (he always knew of the best places), anyway, I don’t remember how old I was but he’d bought me a small rod and reel. He showed me how to put the worm on and then he told me to take the rod and hold it back and let it go, which I did. Rod and all! Right into the lake! It sank like a rock.

    Daddy had to go in waist deep to get it. He didn’t get mad, but I was so upset that I’d disappointed him, instead, there he stood, soaked to the bone and started teaching me all over again.
    Another memory is when I found how much I loved playing softball. I was always a sports nut in school. I used to play hind catcher when I was around 5 when he and our older brother were practicing. I couldn’t tell you how many times I got hit in the face, throat, everywhere, but I wasn’t about to cry, cause I wanted to make daddy proud.

    I had a hard time in school, life etc. Whenever I got upset over something, I’d get really quiet and go off alone or in my room and cry or lay on my bed alone. It never ever failed that daddy always seemed to know when something was bothering me. He’d come to my bedroom and sit on my bed with me and just talk. He always had the best advice and I always felt so much better afterwards.

    He taught me alot about playing ball. I used his old glove he’d used many, many years before. It had no padding in it whatsoever. I had so many busted blood vessels from catching his fast pitches, but I would never complain. He bought me my first glove and made me a pretty good ballplayer. He came to every game.
    He got me my first guitar and after I taught myself how to play he got me another one. It was my senior year. He told me to always keep that guitar cause it would be worth something someday. I loved that guitar, not because it might be valuable, but because he gave it to me for no reason at all other than to say he was proud of me. Unfornutaly, hard times hit when my oldest son was 3. I was a single mom, my car broke down, I lost my job cause I couldn’t get to work on time walking there, and I lost my apt. I couldn’t feed my son, so a member of the family stopped by and offered to buy it. When you have a child that hasn’t eaten in a few days, you do what you have to do. So, I sold it to this family member making him promise to sell it back for the same price when I could get back in my feet. He swore he would.

    That didn’t work out. It hurt me so badly because it was the last thing my daddy ever gave to me.
    Oh, well,

    Daddy did alot of stuff like teaching me all the things you need to know when you get into trouble while driving.

    When I was a sophmore, around Feb. a couple of months after I turned 16, my learner’s permit was about to expire. Daddy said he’d come to school and take me to get it renewed. When we got to the DMV, he walked in and said, “my daughter’s here to get her license”. I freaked out! I begged daddy to not make me do it. But he did. He always had away of making hard decision easier. My sister helped me alot in learning how to drive as well. She was pretty much the only mom I’d ever really had. Thanks sis.

    Daddy was great at telling stories. One story was when he was a police officer in Pilot Mtn. He and his partner, Lonnie Jackson, were good friends as well as partners. Daddy said one night, (he worked 3rd), that he and Lonnie got a call that some guys were stirring up trouble down one of the alleys. They were drinking and smoking… u know….anyway, daddy said they could have called for back up and it could have gotten ugly, but instead, he and Lonnie backed into the alley. Daddy got out of the car alone and just started talking to these guys. Really calm, just talked. No guns were ever drawn, no bullets fired. He literally talked these guys into giving themselves up and promised that he’d do whatever it took to get them help.
    I knew most of the cops that daddy worked with and the lady that was the dispatch in Pilot.
    I stopped by one day and they were all talking about that very story. Sometimes our daddy could tell some tales, but the one about how he handled a drug bust was all the buzz. No pun intended.

    It took me so many years to get over his death. The night he passed was so strange. At school that day I had one of my weird feelings that something wasn’t right. I had a hateful english teacher that didn’t put up with anything. I just couldn’t concetrate. So, I laid my head on my desk. She came up and asked what was wrong and I told her I thought something was wrong with my daddy. She let me leave school. Just as I was getting home, my sister was taking daddy to the doctor. He was having chest pains and pain down his left arm. The stupid doctor told him he had tennis elbow. The man hadn’t worked in years due to his bad heart.
    Later that night, me, my boyfriend and a cousin and her boyfriend were all at the house. Daddy had been taken to the hospital as the pain got worse. I knew it was another heart attack, but he’d survived the ones before, even the one that should have taken his life a year before. I don’t know why I didn’t realize it was serious, especially after the weird feelings I’d had all day that something wasn’t right. My friends and I were in the den watching tv in front of the christmas tree. It was exactly 13 days till my 18th birthday.
    Suddenly the preacher and his wife from our church came in. Then more and more people came in. It didn’t dawn on me that anything was wrong. Here my house is filling up with people and I didn’t catch on. The only thing I thought was strange was when the phone would ring the preacher would answer it. I remember thinking why is he answering our phone? Finally, Linda and Don Fore came to the front door. They were good friends of our parents. Linda had tears streaming down her face and I got a glimps of someone behind me waving or something. Linda immediatly grinned and asked if I was okay.
    I’m like yeah, just waiting to hear when daddy’s coming home.
    Finally after about an hour, with the house full of people, it started to hit me that something was wrong. Bad wrong. I walked out of the den, through the kitchen and into my room. The preacher followed me as well as alot of other people. I remember standing in front of my dresser looking in the mirror when the preacher started to tell me what had happened. I lost it. I mean I lost it big time. People were grabbing me cause I collasped and kept putting cold cloths on my head. All I could do was scream and cry. How could my daddy be gone. Now I had noone. Nobody that would listen to me. Nobody to talk to. I’d never felt so alone in all my life.
    I don’t remember his funeral. I can only recall on person I went to school with being at the funeral home, when my whole senior class, teachers, coaches, asst. principal everybody was there, but I don’t remember anyone but that one girl. I barely remember him being taken out with all the deputies as the pall bearers. His health had improved enough that he was going to be inducted back as a deputy but he died the day before. I remember his funeral being held up a couple extra days to give his brother that live in Penn. time to get down here. But that’s all I remember. It took me 20 years before I could go to where he is buried. I just couldn’t. My reason when someone would ask is that’s not where he is.
    Daddy gave me some things that belonged to mama when she passed and he gave me the shirt and softball that was mounted and given to him when he pitched a doubleheader in a winning game. The only thing I got of his after his passing was his police whistle and an old huge lighter. I no longer have the lighter, but I still have the other things. It’s not much, but they mean the world to me. I miss him everyday. I can’t wait to see him again.

    I’ll never forget my daddy. He raised a great bunch of kids. Gave all of us time and attention and did his very best to give us a home and even though it was hard for him to say the words, “I love you”, he showed it more than mere words can say.
    And evn though I’ve always dreaded Christmas because he died so close to it. And my birthday. I quit celebrating it after he passed.
    But as time went on, I began to remember how excited he got at christmas. He was as bad as us kids. So, I’ve tried hard to make it good for my kids. I still don’t celebrate my birthday though.

    I hate that he never got to know any of my boys. My youngest seems to take after daddy so much. They all say they can’t wait to meet him one day.

    I don’t know that anyone could have a better daddy than we all had. He was my hero then and he still is today.

    I love you daddy. Can’t wait to see you again. And, I’ll be talking with you soon, as always.


    btw, little brother both our parents were proud of you. And your sisters and brothers are too. Regarding the wonder you had about being mean when you were a kid….I personally could write a book on that one. Hahaha. I am soooo serious. But I love you anyway.


  • Jake (author) said:

    Great stories Sis.. yeah if i was mean it was your fault for always locking me out of the house! :P


  • Penny said:

    Jeff, this is so wonderful. I believe that angels are all around us and help guide us through this crazy world. I miss my dad too. It was 23 years ago this month he died. I think often what he would have thought of his grandchildren that he never knew or how I’ve lived my life.


  • Jake (author) said:

    @ Penny – yeah, i KNOW there are Angels in my life! I know you miss your dad and we do have those precious memories!

    Btw, i need to talk to you about some old 8mm film i have!


  • Penny said:

    Uncle Tony (Donna’s husband) converted a bunch of 8mm film several years ago into vhs I think. It was so wonderful to watch. Lots of Christmas’ at Granny and Papas. What’s on the film?


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