‘Do’ Have a Happy Father’s Day by Kelly Gee

Archived in the category: Featured Writers, General Info
Posted by Joyce Rhyne on 15 Jun 17 - 0 Comments

When I was just a little girl my Daddy used to say, ‘there are some things Gee’s just don’t do.’ You see, ‘Gee’ was my last name, a proud English name traced back to the 1500’s by family members who loved genealogy. I knew how proud my Daddy was of his heritage. His father was a leader in the community where he and his 7 brothers and sisters grew up, and they were well known in the whole county. There is even a road bearing the name near the land the family farmed. Still, I remember wondering if I would be in trouble for doing something that ‘Gee’s’ don’t do.’ Maybe I did not know what not to do? What if I made a mistake or embarrassed family? I wondered if there was a list of those non-Gee things that I could memorize. How did I learn about those things Gee’s don’t do?

Thankfully, by the time I started school, I was quickly developing a list of my own understanding of things ‘Gee’s just don’t do.’ I had been punished for lying more than once, and told Gee’s don’t lie. I took a candy bar from Pink’s Convenience Store across the street without paying one day. It was returned in person with my allowance for the month and a letter of apology copied from Daddy’s written example and included the phrase Gee’s don’t steal. I fought with sisters and friends and when corrected was told ‘not how Gee’s do things.’ So, I was beginning to figure out how to avoid things ‘Gee’s don’t do.’ Still, I sensed there was more to the picture.

Trips home taught me more. Time with cousins, aunts and uncles meant trips to the town square just a block away for ice cream, window shopping and other small town excursions. In the local ice cream shop, a lady asked me ‘Are you Mac Gee’s granddaughter?’ I assured her I was and she smiled a huge smile and proceeded to tell me of the many times she had been helped and encouraged by Pappaw, Mammaw or one of the Gee’s. I was impressed that people knew my family. It seemed like every time we were in Daddy’s small home town, I met someone who knew and loved my Gee family. I went to the bank with Momma to cash a check, and noticed they asked for no identification and called her Mrs. Gee and asked after family members all over town. I went to the butcher, the grocer or the church and people knew that Gee name and had meaningful connections to Gee’s. I heard of an aunt who nursed a lady through cancer, an uncle who plowed a garden for a family in need, a church lady who said my Pappaw paid for the preacher to stay one year when the budget would not support his salary. Home grown veggies delivered, pies and cookies baked, recipes shared, farm and home help given, quilts quilted, babies cared for, time invested… the stories continued. Gee’s were known as helpers. When I asked Daddy about it, his answer was simple. Ignoring hurting people is something ‘Gee’s just don’t do.’

Pappaw Gee died the year I turned 13. It was a big loss to me. My preacher Daddy preached his Daddy’s funeral, and it was beautiful. It seemed in my eyes that the whole town was there. After that, I visited less often. The next time I remember walking around the town square and shopping and sharing time with cousins I had just learned to drive. I went into a little antique store and found a small bookshelf. At a time when out of town checks were questioned, I handed the cashier my check, and was so surprised when she said, ‘oh, you’re a Gee kid, I don’t need any of that ID stuff.’ When I asked her how she knew, she said I looked just like my Daddy and I had his eyes. She went on to tell about how he and his family had helped her family and others. She also said how handsome Daddy was in school and how she loved his eyes, and stories went on from there. Horribly embarrassed and slightly shocked at meeting Daddy’s old girlfriend, I left hurriedly. After recovering, I realized I better behave when in town, because everybody knew my name and family. As a grown up, I came to understand that what is on the list of things ‘Gee’s just don’t do’ is easy. Learn what they ‘do’ and you’ve got it. I just tried to follow my Daddy’s example.

The Gee family had no money, farmed some river bottom land and lived very simply. How did they help? Just being willing and giving what you can was their answer. They were more about what Gee’s do than don’t do… Gee’s do speak nicely, say something good or nothing at all, they give before they’re asked, they make it, grow it, fix it or bake it because money was not usually available. Gee’s pay attention to the things that really matter and invest in what is important like Pappaw paying the preacher’s salary one winter. I have been told that his 8 children went without new shoes that year because to Pappaw church was more important. All those many family members continued the legacy of doing. Even my Daddy. I watched my Daddy work hard, live honestly and simply, love my Momma, love his children, love his neighbor as he loved himself. It was not about his situation or money or things; he chose every day to find joy. He told young fathers that their most important jobs were to love your children’s mother completely, love your children unconditionally, live a life that will teach them by example about the kind of person you dream they will become, and spend time wisely because life is what happens while you are busy doing something else. He was a Father who taught more by what he did than what he said. He was a Daddy who taught his daughters well by example. Happy Fathers’ Day to all the Fathers out there! This Father’s Day I wish all Father’s would look at what they are teaching their children. Are you showing them the future you hope they imitate? Do they know what ‘not to do?’ If not then make a choice and show your child by word and action this is what we ‘DO!’

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