6/21/2005 Robert Ballew: One Fatherís
Day Iíll always remember.
Perhaps we all have special Fatherís Day stories, but mine is so
full of irony and coincidence that it will never escape me. I think
of it especially on Fatherís Day, but on many other days of the year
Fatherís Day 1955 started as any other, gifts to Daddy, and many
ďHappy Fatherís DaysĒ to my 53-year-old dad, Robert Lee Ballew. We
were, however, up early and off to my Aunt Ludieís house in
Emmett where my
Grandmother Ballew also lived.
We arrived in time for church at the
Prairie Grove Baptist Church, which was founded by Daddyís
grandfather, J. C. Osborne. Daddy
was not a church going man by and large although he was a believer
and was baptized in this very church as a young man. He was today
among his own folks and took a place in the small choir loft. I
remember looking at him as he rose and sang the old hymns with his
friends and family. Perhaps I was impressed with his being in church
and must say that it is the only time I remember seeing him in
After lunch my cousin Lowell David and I built a bridge across one
of the large ditches in the pasture. It had rained recently, and the
ditch was still full of water. We were impressed with our effort
and, finding the family relaxing on the front porch, pleaded with
someone to come and see what we had done. Daddy finally agreed and
he followed us toward the bridge. Lowell David led, I was second,
and Daddy brought up the rear.
We passed through the large lane in the barn and for some unknown
reason I felt the need to look back. I saw Daddy crouched and
holding on to a fence, which made a pen attached to the barn.
It was not unusual to see Daddy crouching, sitting on his heels when
there was no chair.
I went to his side and assumed the same position and looked at him,
asking what he had found.
His face was crimson and showed distress. He did not respond to me
in any way. He fell toward me, and I jumped back to avoid being hit.
He hit his head on something when he fell, and I realized that
something bad had happened.
Lowell and I screamed to the rest of the family to come quickly.
Daddy had died of a massive heart attack. We followed Uncle Jimmy
and Mother as they headed to
Corsicana up FM 744.
We stopped at the first house that had a phone, called ahead and
waited in the car until Uncle Jimmy came and told us that Daddy had
The irony of the day has fascinated me now for these 50 years. To
have died on Fatherís Day would have been ironic enough, but his
having sung in the choir at his family church that day added an
additional touch. Most of all, perhaps, is that he died within 100
yards of the place he was born. His oldest home place was only 100
yards north of the very spot he took his last breath.
Iíve been a father now for many years and appreciate hearing from
the children and seeing them as parents, but I canít imagine that
Iíll ever experience a Fatherís Day filled with such significance
and irony as that one in 1955.
Robert Ballew writes for
Explore ... magazine.
Reprinted with permission of the Corsicana Daily Sun
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