The Best Dad Ever
by Sharon Kay Eskew McNemar
What makes my dad the best dad a girl could ever want? Well, when I think of him, all I can remember is a great smile, a big heart, the smartest man in the world, the center of the family, a man who had a tough childhood but never knew it and the man who loved my sisters, my mom and I more than life.
Russell Merl Eskew was the third child in a family of eight. He grew up in logging camps. His dad, Norvell Eskew "Runt” ran the log camp. They did not have much growing up and my dad had to grow up fast. He was driving log trucks when he was 16 years old. I remember my Aunt Fay saying that there seemed to be new brothers and sisters all the time. She suggested that the older kids keep an eye on their mom and dad and put a stop to all that nonsense. They ended up with four girls and four boys, one child died at birth. My grandmother, Freda, told me there was nothing to having babies. She used to give birth and then fix breakfast for a log camp full of men. Not a lot of time for affection or so it sounds to me. Somehow, my dad became the most loving person I ever knew.
My dad was so proud of my sisters and I. He always encouraged us to do the best we could and then a little more. All our neighbors loved my dad. He would give them the shirt off his back if they needed it. He would give and never expect anything in return. I never heard him say that anyone owed him anything. He never asked to be paid back. Some people would pay him back but some people took advantage of him. He always looked for the best in people. He was a man of God and he lived his faith.
When my husband, Randy, asked for my hand in marriage, my dad tried to make it hard on him. He knew why we came to see him and he made Randy sweat a little. When Randy asked what he thought of us getting married he said, “ If you love her as much as I do, that would be OK.” That’s my daddy! He loved Randy like the son he never had.
My dad taught me to drive and then he gave me his car that was a manual to teach myself how to drive a standard. He told me I could use the car if I learned how to drive it. I stopped and started about twenty times before I got to the main highway but I learned.
My dad got lung cancer and died when he was only 56 years old. He was so brave through his illness. He did not want to worry us. He never complained. The only time I saw his frustration was when he lost his voice and could not speak. I know the illness happened but I usually don’t think about that memory. I remember him singing to us and dancing with us. I remembered a wonderful smile, a handsome face and a big heart. I feel so lucky that Merl Eskew was my dad. I still do things to make him proud. I think all the time how proud he must be of his grandchildren. Knowing him, I am sure he is proud of all the children from all of the families he knew.
I wish all the fathers a Happy Fathers Day. I have to give a special wish to my father-in-law, Denzil McNemar, also, a wonderful man and a great father. Merl Eskew, you are the best dad ever. Love you, Daddy.