|"Ike" Tipton, 1940|
My father was born near Pigeon Roost, North Carolina in April of 1920. Pigeon Roost is a "holler" up in those mountains of western North Carolina that border the Tennessee border. Yes, it was and is hillbilly county.
|Pigeon Roost Road, Green Mountain, North Carolina - 2012|
My father was the fifth son of nine sons born to Fieldon and Hester Lewis Tipton. When he was nine or ten years old (don't know the exact date) his family moved from their cabin in the mountains to southeastern Pennsylvania to a tenant house on his uncle Don Byrd's farm. My grandfather had nine boys thus cheap labor. This was during the Depression and times were hard for the sawmill business in the mountains, which was my grandfather's occupation. Two more sons were born in Pennsylvania. My father had no sisters.
|My father tall in the back on the left with the hat) with nine of his brothers (one was taking the picture) and his Mother after the funeral of his father - 1939|
|Mom with the car (with a rumble seat) that she met my father - 1940 - my father carried this picture in his wallet until the day he died August 2000|
Love at first sight? Absolutely. Shortly before she died my Mother told me "Your father was the only man I was ever with. He was the only man I wanted to be with."
|My father, Isaac "Ike" Tipton at his charming best - the man my Mother fell for - 1940|
They began dating. My Mother had a difficult home life. Her mother had died before she was two years old and my Mother grew up with a succession of step-mothers. Her father often beat her for silly things like not coming home from the store on time when it was raining. Or for not peeling the potatoes right. My father told her "I'm going to get you out of this mess" and he did. They eloped and got married in November of 1940. My Mother was still going to high school. She returned to her classes that Monday. However, her father soon found out that she got married and she left home with my father.
|My grandfather, George Lincoln Hadfield, Sr. at the family home in Downingtown, PA -1940|
They had nothing. My father was a truck driver. He rented a house in the country that didn't have running water or an inside bathroom. Soon my Mother was pregnant with her first child....me.
|Mom and Pop's first home - that's my Mom pregnant with me - 1941|
|Mom and Pop and.....ne - 1941|
Life was not easy but my Mother said she was happy. She was out of "that mess" and with the man she loved.
She became pregnant with two more children, both boys born in 1943 and 1944. This was during the war years. My father was exempt from serving in the armed forces because of a head injury. Instead he was part of the war effort in cross country truck driving. He was gone for long periods of time which my Mother was left to fend for herself to feed three young boys who always seemed hungry.
|"Pop" and his three sons - 1947 - that's me to the right with my hand on his back|
|Pop with his three sons - 1980 - that's me to the right dominating the conversation (of course)|
|Tipton Family Christmas photo 1971 - this was after I came out to everyone. I think Pop still didn't know quite what to make of his oldest son|
We were lucky, my father wasn't an alcoholic. He was just hard to please. However, he did treat his youngest son as his "pet." And of course my brother John is the most well adjusted of all of this three sons. Isaac, Jr. (the middle son) and me are continuing to adjust to our "I got the dumbest kids on earth" upbringing to this day. I don't think I'll ever completely rid myself of my inferiority complex nor will my brother Isaac. That, unfortunately was one of my father's legacy to us.
My father smoked his whole life. He was told to stop smoking many times. Being the bullhead he was he ignored the doctor's advice. On my birthday November 9th, 1979 he had quadruple heart bypass surgery.
|Pop with Mom after his heart bypass surgery 1979|
|Pop in his garden - his favorite place on this earth|
My father died August 22, 2000 from lung cancer. He suffered a lot during the last two weeks before he died. He had to have oxygen fed to him. He also was on morphine to help control the pain.
The Saturday night before he died I visited him in at Brandywine Hospital in Coatesville, PA. A lot of people had visited him but that night we were alone. I just sat with him while he struggled to breath. He opened his eyes and looked at me. We never did say much to each other but I think he understood why I was there. He was my father. He is who I am. Many people say I resemble him not only in physical appearance but in mannerisms. I've seen myself on video and I have to agree, much to my chagrin.
My Father motioned to me to help him get out of his bed. He said "Help me." He wanted to take a pee and didn't want to go in the bedpan. Yep, we're alike. I wouldn't go in a bed pan either.
|Me with Pop a few days before he died - 1980|
He put the urinal back and looked to me to help him back in bed. As I was helping him back in his hospital bed I said to his ear (he head was turned away from me) "I love you Pop." He paused for about two seconds, like he was thinking of something to say....but he didn't say anything. I finished helping him back in his bed. I think he understood. He did understand. His first born just buried our life long acrimony by telling him that he loved him.
I sat with him for another half hour until he feel asleep. Then I left him in that hospital on that dark, hot, humid, August Saturday night. That was the last time I saw him alive.
The following Monday, as I was opening the door to the bank office where I worked in Downingtown, I heard the phone ringing. I knew why it was ringing. I just knew. I unlocked the door and rushed to the phone. My sister-in-law Barbara (John's wife) was on the other end of the line. She said "Ronnie, Pop died last night." Even though I knew why she was calling, I felt like I just took a tremendous punch in the stomach. I couldn't breath. This man, this force in my life was.....gone.
Barbara then told me "Ronnie, no one told Mom. Could you tell her?" Thus, I as the eldest son, had the responsibility of telling my Mother that the man she had been married to for sixty years was gone.
I left the bank and somehow drove home. I felt like I was out of body. I still had trouble breathing. When I got to my parent's home my other brother Isaac, Jr. was there with our Mom. They knew why I was there. They knew.
|Pop at his home with his dog Pepper, June 28, 1976|
Thirteen years later as I type this scene, I still get choked up. I've played this scene so many times in my life since my father died thirteen years ago.
As I've said before, I was never close to my father. Neither were my brothers, although John may have been a little closer to him that Isaac and me. But the one thing we always knew, he loved our Mother. Theirs was a love story that ended that day in August. One of my father's favorite songs was by George Jones. It was called "He Stopped Loving Her Today." I made sure that song was played at his funeral.
|Pop, July 1967 showing off his crop of tomatoes|