By Wendel Sloan
My father, Guy Sloan, died in 1990 at 71.
After working around asbestos for 25 years as a carpenter at an east Texas steel mill — an 80-mile round-trip from my hometown of Mt. Vernon — he spent his final years coughing so hard his ribs would break. Otherwise, he might still be alive.
My parents had six kids (and helped raise a rainbow of grandkids and great-grandkids).
While my three older brothers and I were in junior high and high school, playing multiple sports, my father would race us barefooted in our pasture — and beat us.
Daddy loved sports on radio and TV, and watching his sons play. Since Mother also played ball with us, running makeshift bases in our pasture in her ever-present dresses, sports were second nature for the Sloan boys.
Guy especially loved hunting and fishing.
Well known for his bird dogs, he would invite me to join his work/hunting buddies and him on all-day treks through endless pastures and woods.
I went a few times, and even impressed them my first outing by silently pointing out four squirrels in a tree. Generally, though, I made excuses to avoid the 5 a.m. wakeup calls since I would be ready to call it a day by breakfast. Sometimes, I’d catch up with them with my camera.
Guy was a masterful storyteller and practical joker. When some friends and I were camping in our barn, he sneaked up during the night and scared us by howling like a wolf.
When a co-worker was stealing employees’ lunches, Guy put a dead mouse inside a sandwich. The man took a bite and threw up.
It’s amazing how much cooler and smarter my eighth-grade-graduate father has become.
Although during our last visit he said he didn’t fear death, I miss that man.
If only I could wish him happy Father’s Day and walk the pastures with him again.
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