Friday, February 18, 2011

With love from 'Sis'

Robert Courtland Floyd
February 18, 1923 - February 12, 1997

Today would be my father's 88th birthday.

I love to think of this day...which would certainly include cherry pie instead of cake, and a good drink of Jim Beam Whiskey later on.

I won the lottery when I got Bob Floyd as my father.
He brought light and love and humor and wisdom and  
warmth and clever wit to his family every single day.

From the time we woke in the morning,
("Hit the deck! Rise and shine," he would shout)

Until we went to bed,
("Goodnight, Sis," he would say to me as he kissed my cheek)

He made all six of his children feel significant.

He was proud of his brood, and we knew it.

My favorite memory is accompanying him to a carnival one Saturday, part of a political campaign he was managing, I think. We wandered the grounds, greeting people and eating ice cream... nothing special, really, and I was fairly bored.  I think I was about fourteen at the time. Anyway, a carnival barker coaxed him over to a basketball goal (set up with no backboard) and cajoled him into playing. Three shots through the hoop, the man said, and you can pick any prize you want. 

Dad turned and handed me the ball. Me? I blushed. No, Dad.
Sure, he had said. Give it a try.
Well, I had played about a thousand games of  H-O-R-S-E out on the driveway in Ruskin with my four brothers, so I knew how to shoot a basketball, but three swishes with no backboard? 
No one could do that. 

"How will you know if you don't try?" he had asked.
I knew it was useless to argue.
I took the ball, stepped up to the free throw line, and dribbled. 
I looked up at the rim, bent my knees, and shot the ball

"That's one," Dad said, retrieving the ball for me and
handing it back.

I was happy not to have humiliated myself among the group of onlookers who had gathered. I took the ball again,
and again bounce-bounce-bounced it. What the heck? I thought.

I looked up at the basket,
aimed for just over the rim, and shot

I was amazed. Wow. Something to tell my brothers about now.
I had made two out of three shots, nothing but net, I thought.
 I could hear myself bragging to them now.

The carnival barker had retrieved the ball this time,
and handed it back to me with all the joy of a refuse collector.
I smiled and shrugged.
I was as surprised as he.
It was then that I made the mistake.
I glanced around to see that there were
more people standing around watching.
Watching me.
Watching me shoot a basketball.

Did I ever tell you how very shy I was as a child?

I took the ball from the not-very-happy man, and this time, my heart did that little flutter thing it does when you get nervous.
I realized there was a very good chance
I was going to choke on this last shot.
I looked helplessly at my father,
who was looking at me with a mix of pride and confidence.
Huh? I thought. Is he looking at me like that?

"You can do it," he said casually. 

I took the basketball, which suddenly felt verrrrry heavy.
I looked up at the rim, which suddenly looked verrrry far away.
I looked up again, prolonging my agony.

Let's get this over with, I thought.

I looked up and took my shot.
Instead of swishing down into the net, the ball
(thank you, Mr. Adrenaline) hit the very back of the rim
....and bounced. 

It was like a scene from "Hoosiers". The ball seemed to hang in the air forever as I thought to myself "You blewwww it."

The ball came down and hit the side of the rim, bounced again, and came down to spiral around and around the rim until it finally
dropped through it. 

"She wins!" the carnival barker yelled.
People started to clap.

"What's your prize?"
I picked a straw hat.
"Aw, go ahead and take another," the suddenly sweet man said.
I chose a stuffed teddy bear for my new baby niece, Charlotte.

The surprised onlookers laughed and clapped again.

The carnival man, I'm sure, got lots of activity after that ("C'mon now, folks, if this girl can do it, you can do it!"), but what I will never forget is the look of triumph on my father's face.
He couldn't have been more proud if I had won the Nobel Peace Prize.
We left the carnival then, but as we walked the distance toward the exit, my father exclaimed to every person he passed,
"Do you see this hat? My daughter won this hat
by sinking three backboard!"

That day, I learned:
  1. Dad believed in me.
  2. You never know what you can do until you try.
  3. You can sometimes amaze even yourself at your ability.
Here are a few more pictures of my dad as a young man.
Quite handsome, don't you think?

Dad in high school in his ROTC uniform
He went on to proudly wear the uniform of
the USMC, serving in the Pacific in WWII

Inscription reads,
"With love to the sweetest girl in the world."
(my mother, of course)
They were married for over 50 years.

At work early in his career as a broadcaster
His proudest moment was an interview he was granted
with President Harry S. Truman after an assassination attempt
by  Peurto Rican Nationalists in 1950 .

One more thing that Dad brought to the family was music.
He had a beautiful voice, and I think he sang every single day.
I honestly don't remember a day that he didn't sing something to us.
He sang everything from the sacred to the silly. He passed that mellifluous voice down to several children and grandchildren, but, alas, I did not win that lottery. 
Still, I credit his wide range of musical taste
to my love of music today. 

I wish we had a recording of him singing.

Today I'm headed to Kansas City to meet my twin,
who's flying in from California,  and other siblings.
We'll visit my mother and drink a toast to Dad.

It was a tough call on the music choice today, but I'm sure all of my siblings, and most of the grandchildren will identify with this one.


♥ Bing is great, but Dad was better. ♥


  1. He is looking down on you right now Jo and has just as much pride as he did back then. You have grown up to be a beautiful heart with much talent. A beautiful tribute to a loving father. I too have lost my father and always wish I had that "one more day" with him.
    Now I must go and fix the makeup that is running down my face so I can leave for work.
    God Bless you and your family as you celebrate his life and the gifts that he gave to you!
    With Much Love,

  2. What a beautiful tribute. Made me cry. Thank you so much for this.

    What a babe he was! Wow.

  3. What a loving tribute Jo. I wish every child could experience the same love, support and strength of a father such as you had. I had one as well and I thank my lucky stars everday.

    I see your face in the first photo of him in his ROTC uniform and also see him reflected in you and what makes you so special.

    The first photo reminds me of Little Lord the fancy pants outfit!

    Enjoy and day and all the memories.

  4. I love this beautiful post, Jo. As I partake in Reya's wine celebration, I will raise my glass to your father. Cheers! I'm sure that as he reads this post in heaven, he will be a little surprised that the clear details of the carnival have stayed with you over all these years. You have put a song in his angel heart. My dad was born in February too. Enjoy your family day. <3

  5. Oh what a beautiful CHERRY PIE post this was!!! NOW I know why Mike liked cherry pie AND the picture below the ROTC picture reminded me of Mike so much - only your dad had more hair!

    That first picture is just amazing...looks like such a long time ago - before our parents could POSSIBLY have had a get-up like that, Yet, there it is as proof...and so adorable!

    You are so right - a parent's belief in you - PRIDE in you - is irreplaceable. My father was that way - his motto was that we can do anything we put our minds to. Unfailing support and love is something I wish for everyone.

    Thank you for sharing this - and I am so sorry for your loss - he was so close to another birthday too. I see all of you Floyds in his kind eyes! <3

  6. From the beginning~ CHERRY Pie, Jim Beam Whiskey, darling photo. What a MAN he must have been to have raised such a family. Then the Carnival~ how proud were you??? And your DAD ! How special!

    I agree, you look alot like him, so beautiful! Once again a terrific post and I do so love Bing!

    Love and peace to you my friend!!!! xoxoxoxox

  7. I started to cry when I saw what song you posted. It's funny...I have thought to myself that I won the lottery when I got you as my Mom.

    I have fond memories when I look back on my very short time with Grandpa. I think my most significant memory of him was when I was probably about eight years old or so. He took me into Odessa (I think)to buy a toy for me. It was just the two of us. I vividly remember how intimidating that was for me in the beginning. Grandpa had quite a presence unlike any other person. I was never afraid of him, I just knew how important he was :-)

    He took me ALL around that store helping me decide what it was that I wanted. When it came down to either a doll or a two play horses (that were really more like statues) he helped me decide with great guidance. I remember him asking me very specific questions like "Do you already have a lot of dolls? Do you have a toy horse? Imagine in a few months, which one do you think you still would like to have around"? After the debate we decided to go with the horses. To this day, I can't tell you how happy I am with that decision. I fear that if I went with the doll it would have been tossed in the toy bin and possibly lost forever somewhere with the rest. But the Those are one of a kind to me. I never had and never will have anything quite like those. From the time I bought those horses they have stayed next to my bed on my nightstand. And every time I look at them I think of that memorable day with Grandpa.

    He certainly had a wonderful way of making a little girl feel so special and so loved. Not just because of the toys he bought me but because even at such a young age I knew how much he cared. I don't think I realized it at the time, but the lesson I learned from him that day I practice almost every day of my life. My only regret is that I didn't get more time with him and be blessed with many more experiences with such a great individual.

    Thanks for the post Mom. I loved reading about your memory...I hope you enjoyed mine, too.

  8. Oh my goodness. What touching, poignant, and beautiful comments!

    I am so sorry to be unable to reply to each of you directly right now. I'm in the hotel office center, and have only a few minutes access to the computer (can you believe I left my laptop at home this a.m?)

    Please know that each of you has touched me deeply and comforted me with your words today. Thank you so very much for taking the time to share your thoughts. It means more than you can know. ♥

  9. man oh man every dad in the world could read this and hope and pray and wish with all his might that he could leave this sort of legacy and rich fruitful gift in his family!!! beautiful jo - really beautiful. steven

  10. I pray that every father may come to know the great impact of all his actions, great and small, upon his children.

    If that were to be so, many more would learn to live with intent.

    Thank you so much, Steven. Your kind words honor my father.

  11. Between you and Andrea, Jo, I'm reaching for the hanky this morning. What a wonderful tribute to your dad, and Grandpa, painted in a way that takes us there and lets us know how special he was to you all. He would have been a wonderful man to know, to have as a friend, a colleague. Thanks for these wonderful stories!

  12. Oh, Lowell, it SO good to hear from you.

    I think you would have really liked my dad. You share a lot of the same qualities!

    Thank you very much for adding your thoughts! xoxo

  13. Thanks Jo. What a wonderful tribute and sketch. My gosh how you look like your father and how Mike did too!!! Thanks for sharing.

  14. You are most welcome, Dubby. Always happy to share.

  15. Jo, just reading this lovely post and, like others, tearing up a bit. Lost my sweet Dad in 2001. You surely have inherited your father's kind heart.

    By the way, I was in KC Friday (and weekend), too. How funny if we had passed each other on I-70. Warm regards to you and thanks once again for an amazing post.

  16. Oh, Jan, we have to meet up someday! Joyce would have loved to have seen you again, too.

    Don't you still just love Kansas City?

    Thanks so much for your ever-kind words. I truly appreciate them.


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