Hey World! This month is the birthday of the most amazing human ever!
I loved my dad, I love him still, just as much. I think of him every day and covet those moments when he fills my dreams. I have his photos on my desk where I can see him every time I sit down to work. I have always been daddy’s girl.
Finis A. Turner or otherwise fondly known as Jack has an amazing story to tell. It is funny, heartbreaking, adventurous, and loving. No matter where he was headed I wanted to be with him. He was my buddy, my first crush, my first best friend, and the person I wanted to be with. Even when I was a bit older I loved to sit in his lap, the smell of car grease, gasoline and WD40 the familiar scent of my dad.
He was born to an unwed mother in Dallas Texas right before the depression. He was given up for adoption and sent to a Texas children’s home where he was adopted as an infant by Mr. and Mrs. Turner. This unfortunately wasn’t meant to be his forever home or family. After a few years his adopted mother decided life in West Texas as a farmer’s wife wasn’t for her. She wanted more than what her husband was offering and she left them behind. She ended up remarried, living in the big city.
The life dad had as a toddler, young child and early teens was hard, filled with abuse, neglect, and indifference.
His adopted father took off and left him in the care of an aunt and uncle, where he was essentially free farm labor.
I asked him once why he ate so fast and he said it was because when he lived on the farm he was never given much time to eat so if he wanted to get his fill he had to do it fast. This habit was even more ingrained when he was on the USS Enterprise in WWII where meals were quick. There were two times my husband, Chuck, had to do the Heimlich because dad had choked on big pieces he didn’t chew well enough. Chuck was the only one who could do it since he was as big a man as dad. Dad was always reminded by his uncle Bud he was living off the good graces of his adopted family, that he wasn’t blood related. Nothing he had really belonged to him. I always felt this was why he was so possessive of us – my mom, my sisters and I. He didn’t learn to share because he never had anything that was his that he could share. This was why I always told him we were his.
Dad was always a rather free spirit when he was a young man. He ran off his junior year of high school, not letting anyone know, and enlisted in the Navy.
When it was discovered he was underage serving in WWII on an aircraft carrier as a sheet metal worker he was discharged as a reservist and went back home to finish high school. He wandered around picking up jobs here and there, until he met and married his first wife. That marriage came to a quick and heartbreaking end for him. Not to say he was faultless in the situation but he was with a woman who wanted more – kind of like his adopted mother. After that relationship ended he wandered more, pretty much all over west Texas and ended up in Colorado City TX where he met my mother. She was a petite little cutie who worked in the drug store behind the soda counter. She told me the first time she saw him she was taken by his gregarious nature, his fun loving personality, and how handsome he was. They had their first date on July 4, 1950
and were married on July 25, 1950! Yep that’s right three weeks later. They were married until April 2002 when he passed away.
Fifty two years.
Dad went into the Air Force after an ultimatum from my mom to get a real job or get lost. He had taken off and she had no idea where he was. She showed up at his aunt’s place and waited for him there. She found out later he had met up with some old friends and the longer he stayed away the guiltier he felt and that kept him from coming back. He was embarrassed to show his face. Like I said he was a bit wild and had no business getting married. He got an earful from both mom and his aunt, and he went home with mom, tail between his legs.
He enlisted in the USAF and spent twenty years in the service. He (and the family) was stationed in Harlingen TX, Yuma AZ, Panama City FL, Valdosta GA, Del Rio TX, Tucson AZ, Misawa, Japan, Angeles City, Philippines, and retired back in Tucson in 1971. He also had a solo assignment in Germany.
My dad was a cool guy who rode motorcycles, volunteered with the UA football team, once met Elvis Presley and John Wayne (not together), and was everybody’s friend. He was the guy you wanted to know. Dad and I regularly took off on his bike, leaving my two sisters home with mom. I knew if I was very well behaved he would take me with him and I was always a good little girl for my dad. He wasn’t perfect by any means, but he treated me wonderfully and I could count on him. He loved to work on cars, and nearly burned down our house when he was working on a motorcycle carburetor. That was the last time he owned a bike. Mom put her foot down.
Several months before my wedding dad was hurt very badly at work and had skin grafts to his right foot as well as three toes amputated from that foot. It was a horrible injury, but he worked so hard to be able to walk me down the aisle, even wearing a walking boot and using a cane, he did it. Like I said, I could always count on him.
Once when dad was working with the Arizona Wildcats football team as a volunteer during Coach Larry Smith’s time I sent in a letter to a local TV station doing features on ‘people who care’ in the Tucson area. They set it up and came to interview dad at practice. He was also interviewed when the football coaches changed from Coach Smith to Coach Dick Tomey. I have those interviews recorded on VHS and finally have a player so I can watch them. I will admit when I view them my heart aches for him. I cry, sob sometimes, with missing him. I’m feeling a bit teary right now as I write this.
Dad had a really bad stroke that left him completely paralyzed on the right side. He couldn’t walk or speak. A terrible situation for this larger than life, handsome, gregarious, friendly, outgoing man. The stroke was in 1998, and he passed away in 2002. I miss my dad, Sarge I called him, and treasure memories of his laugh, his love for us, the way he smelled of gasoline and WD 40, and him calling me “sugarbabe”.
Thanks for indulging me with this bit of my dad. His birthday is the 28th of this month and he will be in the forefront of my thoughts.