John Woodard Carter Sr. and His Retirement dream home.
New Living Translation (©2007)
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12 NLT
Today was earth day. A fitting time to write this BEAM about my father John W. Carter Sr. Fitting, because dad was a man of the earth. He was the most grounded and solid man I have ever known. What a blessing that I got to call him Father!
Dad was born in the twenties and times were tough and his family was poor. And it didn’t help that he had an alcoholic father who was never there. He was raised by a mother who did the best she could with her family. She was a good woman. I remember Grandma Bessie. She used to eat the jar of pickles and drink the juice. (No wonder I love sour stuff today!) I was the last one to see her alive and found her when she died, when I was 10 years old. Maybe dad got some of this earthiness from his mother. Not sure but I know he got a lot of it from his grandfather that he told me about many times. I heard many of his wise sayings growing up.
- Elaw, Law… JW; if you don’t listen, you have to feel.
- Elaw, Law… JW; if you lay down with the dogs, you get up with the fleas.
- Elaw, Law… JW; an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
And the way my daddy would say it, you could almost feel him sitting on the porch with his grandfather listening. I can still hear my daddy telling me today & he has been gone since 98. Yep! Daddy was a man of the earth. He was a man; when men were still men. He got his arm 1/2 shot off when he was a boy and was expected to die from mass gangrene. True to his nature, he surprised everyone & pulled through and became stronger in that severely maimed arm than most people are with normal ones.
Then came World War II. Dad didn’t dodge anything, ever. He took that rough-looking arm to Europe and served our country in a time that our freedoms were on the line. He told me stories about the German U boats coming underneath his ship in the English Channel and how lucky they were that depth charges got the one after them. He had some kind of accident with a land mine that permanently impaired his hearing but dad didn’t complain. I just got used to hearing him whistle at me with his hearing aid. Maybe that is why I talk so loud today. Anyway, Dad was always proud of his military service and came back to the US like so many to start & raise a family.
It’s hard to relate Daddy’s kind of strength to kids today. He took the lumber on a bicycle on his back, to build his first house. He climbed poles for a living, before OSHA took the danger out. The more severe the storm, the longer daddy was gone. He worked night & day in unimaginably dangerous conditions. And when dad would come home from the power company; he would do electrical wiring or work in his shop. And on the weekends when other men played; dad cut trees & performed tree surgery. Daddy could name every tree, when he took me through the woods just by looking at the bark. Yep, Dad was a man of the earth & a working man.
All the toughest men I knew would tell me “Nobody is as tough as your dad.” “Slats,” “Long John,” & “Speedy” were nicknames given him by the men he worked with. And dad passed that working virtue along to his kids. On Saturday’s when other kids watched cartoons, I cut trees. “Pick up the stick, or I’ll take the stick after you.” I loved working with my father, eventually… It was really hard work.. I remember dad coming down from the trees after a normal 14 hour day & watching him disrobe, horrified at the blood pouring from his legs where the hooks had gouged into him. He would just make light of it and try to hide it.
I could go on & on about my father’s strength. And I may in other BEAMS. But I just wanted to give you a hint of the down to earth, solid man my father was to lead up to this story. As you might imagine, dad’s hard work ethic produced for him a good life; a paid for home, kids he sent to college and on and on. Dad accomplished a lot. He was “set comfortably” in the home he raised us in and it was a nice home. But dad had a dream of a Retirement home. Once dad set to the purpose of working on his dream, he never looked back.
I had a wonderful mother but she never saw dad’s dream. But that was OK. Cause dad saw it and he was determined to make it come true. My brother’s children & my children called him Pop-Pop. And we all knew there was very little that my father could not do. Mechanical, he could make his own parts. Carpentry, he could build it. Steel, he could weld it. Electrical, he could wire it. “Daddy, fix it” were perhaps my favorite words as a little boy. Because as you may have guessed; I could sure tear things up. LOL …… So dad’s dream to build his own retirement home was not pie in the sky; He knew he could do it, even when no one else did.
At least a decade before he retired, dad bought him some land. Eleven acres, in what was then country. He could see that the area would grow and wow was he right. There is a retirement center next door now & a school right up the street. I played on this land, when I was a boy: camped and rode motorcycles there. I loved it.
Keep in mind that dad was sending his kids to college through all this. And we always had a good life. Unlike his situation when he was little. We always had plenty. So mama was settled and liked our life on 702 Pennington Avenue. But dad was pressing on with his dream and at this point he got lots of friction from mama. She just wanted him to remodel where they already lived. She could not see any way; a man as busy as Dad could build another house. So she discouraged him. Nope. That’s not right. She fought him. Tooth & nail. But Pop-Pop had a vision.
So he bought a home that needed some work. Just what he needed right? More work.. He took the whole brick exterior off the house. (We got to help with that.) Then when he was finished, he hired someone to move it. He cleared a site at his land. He prepared a foundation and had the house moved to the land he bought. But the house was less than 1/2 of what daddy wanted. So he added a third to the house (he himself personally doing the work at night and on weekends). Then he added a full basement to the house. I can remember all of us at this point wondering should he do all this? When he had no help; he worked alone. He literally worked 20 hours a day. Day after day, after day….
It is not possible to explain just how much my father went through, or how hard he worked to make his retirement home dream come true. As you have guessed by now; dad did succeed. He turned his dream into a reality.
So he sold the house that Momma loved and moved her into a new house. A New house paid for by Dad’s blood, sweat and tears. The price he paid provided the way for That home to be free & clear; Dad’s own & not a possession of the bank.
And the awesome 4,000 square foot home was not all, he had to show for his sacrifice. He built a shop. He kept an acre garden. He turned that place into a wonderful Shangri-La. Momma loved it, for the last years of her life and I enjoyed my last years at home, at a wonderful little peace of heaven. A piece of heaven that would have never happened had my father not literally sacrificed blood, sweat & tears. (Oops. No tears. Only saw my father cry 1 time in my life and that is another story.)
And last but not least, Dad enjoyed the fruits of his own creation. Pop Pop’s amazing creation was literally the source of joy that sustained him in his latter years. Years that he had other things to fight. He fought cancer, heart surgeries & other health ailments, with the same overcoming spirit. But in those battles, His dream come true was always a source of strength. A haven of sanctuary that he could “retire” to and get pleasure from, in his Senior years.
The lessons are obvious:
Like Pop Pop, you can overcome a humble beginning.
Disadvantages don’t have to stop you, if you have a will to win.
Strength is a virtue
Being grounded and solid is a good foundation.
You can do more than people think you can do, if your mind is made up.
There is no substitute for hard work.
Good dreams are often internal and not always recognized by others, even those close to you.
Dreams take time, planning and consistent effort to bring to pass.
There are steps you must take to make your dream come true and you must take them in order.
Dreams do come true, if you do not give up and don’t look back.
Your dreams of today can be your source of satisfaction tomorrow, if you empower your dreams by faith & labor.