Delivery Man

We were greeted at front doors by men in work boots, women in waitress uniforms, and their giddy children. Daddy would set trees in dens, and give them free smiles.

Daddy used bolt cutters to cut the chain on a livestock gate. We rode in the bed of his truck, speeding across a bumpy field.

In the pickup-bed: Daddy’s friends Willie, Stuart, and me.

“This is a bad idea,” said Willie, trying not to choke on his cigarette. “Old man Luke’s liable to shoot us for stealing.”

The truck came to a stop. It was night. We could see our breath. We looked across acres of pine trees which grew in a field of weeds.

Daddy aimed headlights at trees. In a few minutes, chainsaws screamed, men laughed. They shaped balsam firs with trimmers, and cut down nearly forty-five.

They stacked them on a flatbed in a hurry.

The next night, Daddy and I sat in the front seat, wearing Santa caps, heater blaring. Bing Crosby never sounded so good.

He handed me a clipboard. “You’re Santa’s Little Navigator tonight.” he said. “Read me them addresses.”

I read, pointing a flashlight at a roadmap. And we delivered balsam firs to every dilapidated home, ratty apartment, rusty camper, and aluminum single-wide in the county.

We were greeted at front doors by men in work boots, women in waitress uniforms, and their giddy children. Daddy would set trees in dens, and give them free smiles.

Most people thanked him until they wore out their voices. Some cried.

Daddy would say, “Don’t thank me, thank the church.”

But the church had nothing to do with it—not officially.

The following Sunday at church, Daddy was a door-greeter. I stood beside him, shaking hands, passing bulletins.

With each handshake, Daddy said, “Care to donate to needy kids who can’t afford trees?”

People handed over bills. Tens, twenties, even a few hundreds.

After service, Daddy drove a maze of dirt roads while the sun lowered over the world. We stopped at a faded house in an overgrown field. Daddy rapped on the door.

An old man answered.

My father said, “Evening Luke, just wanted to see if you’re interested in donating any trees this year.”

The man scowled. “Already told you THREE TIMES, dammit, I don’t SELL trees anymore.”

“But Luke,” Daddy reasoned. “Your tree farm went to weed years ago, lemme cut down some trees for the needy kids.”

“I said ‘no.’”

“Luke, think of the childr—”

“Nope. I don’t care if every last tree rots.”

He shut the door. But Daddy wedged his boot in the jamb. “Please, Luke. You’d be a hero if—”

“No.”

“You won’t have to lift a finger, and…”

“Get off my porch.”

“…And oh, how happy those kids would be when…”

“No.”

“…like James Jacobson, whose brother just died on Highway Ten last week.”

The man sighed.

“…And Carol Simms, whose husband left her with all them kids to feed.”

The man pushed the door harder.

“…And don’t forget the Wilson boys, you know their family ain’t got a pot to…”

My father kept talking until he ran out of air. He was truly something. He could sell ketchup popsicles to a woman in white gloves on the Fourth of July.

Finally, the man said, “Are you done?”

“Promise me you’ll think about it, Luke.”

“ALRIGHT! I’ll THINK about it.”

“Promise?”

“Yes, yes, I PROMISE to think about it!”

They shook. Then, Daddy reached into his pocket and handed the man a stack of cash.

“What’s this?”

“Consider it a thank-you, Luke.”

“For what?”

“For thinking about it.”

I miss my father at Christmas.

19 comments

  1. CKD - December 2, 2017 11:07 am

    Your dad was one special guy!

    Reply
  2. Sandi in FL - December 2, 2017 11:53 am

    What a simply delightful story and memory! Sincere thanks for sharing it, Sean.

    Reply
  3. MJ Breaux - December 2, 2017 12:03 pm

    Wonderfully written Sean.

    Reply
  4. Linda - December 2, 2017 1:48 pm

    What a truly beautiful story, Sean. Thank you.
    I miss my Dad at Christmas too. Very much.
    He was an orphan and his story was that he had been fostered out after his mother died. He was a man of few words and didn’t talk much about his childhood.
    My Dad was a self made man with a 7th grade education. We owned a Carvel ice cream store – one of those free standing ones from the 1950’s….
    It was a seasonal business in cold New York – so we closed on Thanksgiving Eve but he would make up gallons and half gallons of whatever mix was left – leave the freezer on ( with 5 kids this was an additional expense for the coming month ) and on Christmas Eve we would drive to the store. He would shut off the freezers and we would deliver all that ice cream to the two orphanages in our little town…I would always ask- especially as I got older and knew this was an extra bill to be paid for the electricity….why he did this?
    He would say that children in orphanages don’t get many treats.
    I’ve been able to research our family genealogy and found that he and his two sisters were put in an orphanage in another state two weeks after his mother passed…..
    I miss my Dad at Christmas….

    Reply
    • Gloria Wethington - December 2, 2017 7:57 pm

      Beautiful story! God bless you and your Dad!

      Reply
    • Cindy - December 3, 2017 8:43 pm

      What a wonderful thing for him to do! Thank you for this story Linda!

      Reply
  5. paula jones - December 2, 2017 2:11 pm

    What a memory! What a man!

    Reply
  6. Pat Byers - December 2, 2017 2:47 pm

    Linda’s story gave me shivers clear to my toes. Small generosity any time of the year can make such a lasting impression on others. To us, maybe it is small, to the other, it is huge and lasts a lifetime. And your ride in the back of that truck that cold evening made a lasting impression on many. Your dad? he never leaves your thoughts, And we all who read you, benefit from your memories. Thank you.

    Reply
  7. Jack Darnell - December 2, 2017 4:38 pm

    Great post. Okay the story is a tear jerker, but that ketchup Popsicle line is a knock it out of the park one! As always, loved the visit!

    Reply
    • Cindy - December 3, 2017 8:45 pm

      Yes, the popsicle line is the best one I’ve heard lately:)

      Reply
  8. Jack Darnell - December 2, 2017 4:44 pm

    OH, it’s me again. Some men are special. Good dads are hard to find, GREAT dads are one in a million. Love your story and Linda’s SWEET. sorta like Ice Cream!

    Reply
  9. Marty from Alabama - December 2, 2017 7:34 pm

    Your Daddy was an exceptional man! He really was. He was one of those people that believed it was easier to ask forgiveness rather than permission. Don’t know if that is always the right way, but there are times when you just have to do what you think is best. MERRY CHRISTMAS, SEAN!

    Reply
  10. Laurie Hoyt - December 2, 2017 8:44 pm

    Oh my goodness, even my husband laughed and he rarely does. Bless your Dad and his good heart.

    Reply
  11. Trailer md - December 3, 2017 3:31 am

    Yes. That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

    Reply
  12. Debra - December 3, 2017 3:37 am

    Great story, great man!

    Reply
  13. ponder304 - December 3, 2017 4:39 am

    What a story about a great dad!

    Reply
  14. Brian Heinz - December 3, 2017 9:52 am

    When Christ is present in the heart nothing is impossible.

    Reply
  15. Connie Pritchett - December 3, 2017 5:07 pm

    Thank you for sharing your memories.

    Reply
  16. unkle kenny - December 5, 2017 8:21 pm

    it was a friends uncle’s field we raided with the owners blessings. we loaded dads truck and sallied forth from Marianna fl back to dothan. somewhere along the road a spare tree escaped the bonds of the rope that held it. when i saw headlights flashing and horn blowing my first thought was that that 350 Chevy truck could outrun it’s own shadow, so i gunned it. no dice the crazy lady in the caddy pulled up beside us and she did not appear to be crazy at all. she waved us over and pulled up to tell us we had lost a tree, now about 10 miles back. i thanked her kindley and me and my buddy sat and laughed till she was almost to the Bama line. we took off like we were Santa on energy drinks. delivered allthe trees we had promised out. I hope someone was happy to find that road rash tree we lost. my mom and dad were sure proud of the one they got. nothing feels better than a gift …,given. Merry Christmas . ..uk

    Reply

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