What my dad taught me–and I learned (and didn't)

Cat with Daddy, 1962My dad, David Morgan White, died last September. September 12 at just after 10 in the evening, to be more precise. I had been with him for most of the previous 60 hours. It was a long 60 hours–especially the last 12. We gathered on Sunday morning when the doctors removed the IVs that contained the drugs that were keeping his battered heart going: the coumidin, the lasix, and a bunch of stuff I can’t remember. It wasn’t doing him any good any more. He was conscious and looked around at all of us and said, “If you’re ready, I am.” And the nurse disconnected all the drugs except the morphine, which was making his remaining life tolerable.

The doctors told us that he would go quickly without his support meds–they were wrong. A few hours later, just before noon, my dad woke up and looked around at all of us with a rather surprised expression on his face. “What’s taking so long?” he asked. Continue reading

Hog Killing – a Story About Fathers and Sons

Rockingham County, North Carolina

November 1962

“Go call your daddy and Uncle Kenneth,” Papa says, taking his big thermometer from the scalding trough.  “This water’s near hot enough.  We need to get to killing these hogs.”

He gestures toward the pen some thirty feet away.  The hogs grunt and start away as if they understand him.

“Yes sir.”  I rise from my crouch.  I have been tending the fire, making the water hot enough for scalding the hair off the hogs after they are slaughtered.  I trot up the hill to the house and stick my head in the back door.

“Water hot?” asks my uncle.  I nod.  He gets to his feet and pulls on his jacket.  Daddy puts down his coffee mug and wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. Continue reading

A valiant and fearless truth-teller: Tim Hetherington

by Richard Allen Smith

Within two months of arriving in Afghanistan in 2007, I was sitting in the back of one of the few Humvees on Kandahar Air Field that wasn’t up-armored. Seven of my comrades and I, all paratroopers from Task Force One Fury, had rehearsed this mission over and over. This was one of the most important assignments we would have the entire deployment. We trained with the stern faces and stiff jaws of men who made their living as professional Soldiers. But as we sat in the dark in that back of that humvee, our mission commencing within minutes, the stern faces broke. The jaws quivered. Tears ran down all eight of our faces.

This mission wasn’t taking us outside the wire. We weren’t going more than a couple hundred yards, but we had precious cargo. Continue reading