Sunday, December 9, 2007

Jerry Lee Lawson

In honor of one of my hero's 60th birthday today, here are 60 things about Jerry Lee:

  1. He was born December 9, 1947. The oldest of five, he lived in Indiana with the Lawson clan.
  2. He learned to swim when his father threw him in a lake. It was literally a sink or swim situation. He swam.
  3. He wasn't a good student. He rarely went! At the age of 17, he dropped out of school and joined the Army.
  4. He loved his siblings--two brothers and two sisters.
  5. In Vietnam, he was hit by an Army truck and sent home injured. That truck probably saved his life. After returning to the states, he was stationed in Pennsylvania.
  6. There he met a girl at a dance who boldly walked up to him and asked him to dance.
  7. He proposed to that young girl one week later, and they married on June 10, 1972 three months after that first dance.
  8. His Army career included time as a lifeguard, a soldier, a drill sargeant, and a recruiter.
  9. He spent over two years with his young wife living in Germany as a Military Police Officer.
  10. He loved to sing a song "Oh Lord I wanna go home," about life in the Army. His favorite line was "they give you a hundred dollars, and take back ninety-nine--Oh Lord, I wanna go home!"
  11. His son was born in 1975 in Colorado.
  12. His daughter was born in 1978 in New Jersey.
  13. He lived for his family--dedicating his life to loving his wife and two kids.
  14. He gave all his cars a name. All cars were female, with names like "Betsy." The only one given a more male name was "Ole Blue" a big classic sized Chevy van with big blue and beige stripes down the side.
  15. He bought the van from his cousin's dealership in 1983 when driving his family across country for an Army move to California. The first part of the trip was in a family wagon that just wasn't big enough for the family. Stopping in Indiana, he went to buy the van.
  16. He loved the ocean.
  17. Spelling was not his strong suit.
  18. He hated writing school notes excusing a child's absence for illness. He made his daughter write them and then he signed them.
  19. He practiced answering the phone before picking it up. His favorite way to answer the phone was "Jack's Pool Hall--8 Ball Speaking." It confused people, which made him laugh!
  20. He and his brother Mike had disagreements over "who was prettier." He hated it when his daughter sided with her favorite uncle!
  21. In the mid 80's, he retired from the Army after 20 years of service.
  22. He traded his Army uniform for a Postal uniform, working in San Ramon, CA as a postal worker. He walked over 15 miles a day for over ten years delivering mail.
  23. Even in the Winter, his skin was red. It always looked burned.
  24. He considered himself a "Small Town Boy." That was his favorite song from John Cougar Mellancamp. Every time he heard that song, he would say, "that's my boy!"
  25. There were no strangers. He talked to anyone that would listen and he was always kind.
  26. There was a freckle in the center of his green eye.
  27. The man loved to eat!
  28. Thanksgiving was his favorite holiday. He made his family go around the table and discuss what they were thankful for every year.
  29. He joked about having the family dog, Chevy, stuffed and put on the mantle after he died.
  30. When Chevy was put down after 12 years of being the family dog, he cried harder than anyone else. The next day, he nailed the dog's tags to the kitchen wall to serve as a constant reminder. He never had the dog stuffed.
  31. He called the back yard his "office." He liked to sit out there to smoke and visit with people. He would tell them, "Step into my office."
  32. He sat in a big orange chair in the living room for many years.
  33. His lap was the best spot in the house.
  34. Slipping money to his kids was his speciality. He had a way of shaking hands while slipping $20 bill and whispering, "Don't tell your mother." He always acted upset when one of his kids ratted him out about slipping them money (to stay out of trouble themselves, of course). And yet, the next time he could sneak some cash, he still did it again.
  35. He loved to tell his family, "I am the spoke that makes this wheel turn!"
  36. He fed his dog Chappy peanut butter sandwiches.
  37. Basketball was his sport of choice. Proud of his Hosier heritage, he loved to watch a game on TV. Football held no interest for him.
  38. 4-5am was his wake up time every day. He usually woke up about 1 or 2am to smoke and eat too.
  39. He never missed an opportunity for a good nap.
  40. He shaved his mustache once every two years to shock his family. Without it, his thin upper lip made him look a little too like Homer Simpson.
  41. When a good song came on the radio, he yelled for his wife or daughter to dance with him. He loved to dance in the kitchen with "his girls."
  42. He laughed until the tears came to his eyes. He loved to laugh.
  43. He loved to tell his daughter, "If you're good, I just might dance with you at your wedding." Not much of an incentive to behave at ten years old.
  44. His son was his best friend. The two had a bond like no other.
  45. He drove his son, daughter, dog, and two birds in "Old Blue" from San Francisco to Plano, TX all by himself while his wife stayed behind to sell the house.
  46. He loved his wife and lived to make her happy. He loved to find little things that would make her smile and looked for opportunities to spoil her when he could.
  47. On his postal route, his was bit by a small dog in the upper thigh. The woman called the pound, animal control and the post office (on her own dog). She told everyone that her dog had bit him in the crotch. When he returned from his route that day, everyone was waiting at the post office to see how hurt he was. That was one of his most embarassing moments!
  48. He fell twelve feet from the attic to the garage floor looking for Christmas decorations. He broke his toe, foot, pinkie finger, and dislocated his shoulder.
  49. He fell face first into the tracks of the garage door wheels, slicing his face and ear. Before going to the hospital, he went to inspect the tracks to find the piece of his ear! Yes, he was very clumsy.
  50. He was NOT handy. He didn't know how to fix anything. People ran when they saw him with a hammer--no telling what he might do!
  51. He cussed. A lot. Twenty years of the Army would do that to you.
  52. If he liked you, he always liked you. If he didn't, he never hid that fact.
  53. His first grandchild has his middle name.
  54. He started smoking when he was 11 years old. He quit four weeks after being diagnosed with tongue and neck cancer when he was 51 years old.
  55. He had two radical neck dissection surgeries to cut out the cancer and almost lost his tongue. During the surgery, the doctor discovered he wouldn't need the tongue procedure. He woke up telling everyone that no matter what--he would NEVER consider that surgery again. He loved to talk way too much for that.
  56. His daughter was married three days after his last round of radiation. During the wedding, his wife "fed" him through a feeding tube in his stomach. But he got that father/daughter dance he always wanted.
  57. He learned the news that the cancer spread to his lungs on New Year's Eve, 1999. Given less than 9 months to live with treatment, he signed up for treatment that day and was ready to fight.
  58. His fight lasted another four months. He died on April 4, 2000 at the age of 52.
  59. He was my dad. I was Daddy's little girl.
  60. We miss him each and every day. He is never forgotten and never will be.

Happy 60th Birthday, Daddy. I love you very much.


Melissa said...

Absolutletly beautiful Jenny. You brought tears to my eyes.

Cookie's Mommy said...

Great post. Great tribute. I can tell you loved him very much. He is up there with Allie for sure, likely dancing with her now :)

Monica said...

Hi Jenny,

First I wanted to say that I enjoyed learning about your dad. I'm so sorry that he is no longer with you.

Second, I wanted to ask you something about AML and someone that is dealing with it right now. If you are able, would you mind emailing me at

Thanks so much, and I hope you have a great Christmas!

Kristen said...

Wow. What a great post. I'm going to ask my Pe-Pa to track down your Dad in heaven and share a scotch and a smoke. Sounds like they would hit it off.

Best wishes to you and your family.

Krista said...

What a beautiful post, thanks for sharing.

Jeannie said...

Jenny, what a beautiful tribute to your dad. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Jennifer said...

What a great tribute to your father - he would be proud. Made me teary-eyed.

Jennifer said...

Jenny, that was a beautiful tribute to your Dad. I imagine that he and Allie are dancing together in heaven, and that they are both so incredibly proud to have you as a daughter and a mommy.

Jennifer, the california one

Lisa said...

Wow. I am speechless and once again, that was a beautiful post. My dad isn't perfect but I love hime very much- thank you for reminding me of that.

Adrianne said...

Happy Birthday to a special man who is dearly missed.

Laura said...

What a beautiful tribute to your dad. I may have to "steal" the idea for my dad, who has been gone for 2 years. Thanks for sharing this.

3fishies said...

I've heard many of the very funny Jerry stories, but this was so sweet! He was such a great person.

But you forgot one...."Never EVER F*^% with Dad." :)


goingflyin said...

Jenny, thanks for the tribute to your dad. My mom died in a car accident 5 year ago and it seems to like many people want me to move on, stop morning and forget. Your post reminded me that it's the wonderful things that made your parent who they were to you that celebrate and no matter what, you aren't going to forget and you will never stop morning.

Thank you!

Amy said...

Jenny I have read your blog for a while now. Starting with your precious Allie. Often they have brought tears to my eyes or a smile to my face. What a wonderful way to remember your dad on his birthday

Coleen said...

Hey Jen - I check your blog every so often to see what you're up to. I love reading it and don't feel like I have to call (sorry!). I should call more! I miss your dad. Thanks for posting this - it brought back great memories of him. I seem to remember the dog biting him in the thigh and the many times of "Let's talk in my office." What a man he was! -Your friend, CH

Jessie said...

Wow that had me in tears, and I don't know you or have never even met your Dad.
How proud your Dad would have been of you today Jenny,
I have been reading your post's for a few years now and I am amazed and preveilaged to read about your life.
He must have been one special man.

Franklin5 said...

Love this tribute, Jenny. Your dad sounds like one in a million!

Lisa H said...

Well I always read your your posts on both your sights. It did break my heart when Allie passed. I did try to call you several times but only reached your mom, and at the time she didn't think talking on the phone was a good idea. I guess you can say that I was probaly the last person you wanted to speak to and you had enouph on your plate. I admire you for all you been through. I just want you to know that not a day goes by that I don't think about you. I loved your post about Dad.I wish you all well love Lisa