Back when my dad was getting his chemo treatments and checkups at MD Anderson, I decided one day (I was waiting for my car to get serviced, in fact) that I would send a text to him every single day he was in Houston. And in each text message, I would share an adjective that fit some aspect of him. With that adjective would be a specific example of how he displayed that characteristic. Although it started out being something I was going to do simply while he was out in Texas, once I discovered how much he appreciated it, I kept going, to his very last day. I remember on a visit to see Dad in Alabama - at that point, I was about 40 adjectives into the texting - he asked me if I could print out a list of all the texts I had sent him. I said, "Sure." I then got the idea of the "flip book"! Of course, I used Auburn colors! But I couldn't have done this project without a friend, who helped print out the cards. And my wife played an important role, listing out the adjectives I had already used. I was just happy it meant a lot to my dad. I can still see him at the house, even when he was very weak, flipping those cards.
Click here to see one of the adjectives (with example) I had sent him. Later on I may share a few more. And a little caveat here (and this should be understood): In any person, you can find some good in them. And no one person has a 100% of anything. My dad certainly had his flaws, and often showed the opposite of these adjectives in certain situations. And yet there were clearly positive characteristics that seemed to be his standouts, and part of his overall character. That's just life....human nature. So, what I intended to do when I started this project was simply pinpoint examples of times in which he displayed these attributes to me.
#9, influential. When you advised a young Willie Tullis to do extra wind sprints after practice because it would benefit him, he did just that. He said it made him much better!
#20, athletic. Your love of sports came about in part because you were good at them. You had a good jump shot and a great pair of hands.
#26, exemplary. You told me how you resisted drinking during college. Set an example for me! Thank you!
#39, sneaky. You helped me move into my dormitory at Samford. After we hugged and said our goodbyes in the evening, I walked back into my room, where I later looked in my closet and spotted a gift and card you had left me. It was a nice surprise. Thank you again!
#48, fortunate. You were born into a GREAT family and bloodline. The Solomon, Vann, Espy and Carroll trees have deep, extensive roots and an abundance of flavorful fruit. You fit right in! Love you!
#49, alert. You have always kept your eyes peeled. I remember the lady at Water World whose bikini top had come down after a wild ride down the water slide. You artfully pointed this bikini incident out to her, saving her further embarrassment. A funny moment for me and you! Love you.
#64, clever. During my sports crazy years in the 80’s, you sure did know how to put me in the right spot to actually talk with stars like Bo Jackson, Charles Barkley and Pat Riley. And then 2 just c greats like Magic Johnson, Herschel Walker, Kareem, and Brett Favre play in person…..WOW! Pretty lucky. Thank you!
#72, mindful. You were very mindful of the importance of making sure the four of us visited Grandmother Vann on Mother’s Day, Easter, and other days. In fact, u took us over there to see her. Perhaps this is one reason I am so interested in our family history. Thank you!
#83, prepared. As a freshman at Marion, when the starting tight end got injured, you had to step in 4 him. On the road, at Mars Hill, you caught a few passes! Maybe even scored a touchdown?!?!
#101, fun. You’re fun to be around. When it’s Fall, and it’s on a Saturday, I think about the rides 2 Auburn for football games. The tailgating was fun, and the victories were even better. You simply made Saturdays in Auburn really unforgettable! Road games weren’t bad either. Thanks for everything!
#103, lovable. Thank u so much for loving us, and for letting us love you. Loved hearing your voice a few minutes ago. You will always be in my heart. I love you, Dad!