His Pay Stubs……..

My father passed away one week prior to his forty-ninth birthday as a result of a massive heart attack (myocardial infarction) on April 7, 1985. As with any death, things happen quickly in terms of arrangements and everything else that goes along with a sudden death. As I am considered somewhat strange because I have an interest in mortuary science, I actually assisted in the embalming and preparation of my father’s body. I was with him from the time he was placed in the morgue, until he was placed in the ground at the cemetery.  It was comforting to me to assist in his burial preparation, as I know everything was done correctly and the way that my mother would have wanted it. I took care of all of the arrangements, as she did not see my father until she had to make the final inspection before his being placed on display at our church.  During this time and throughout the funeral, I did not cry or grieve. After everything was over, during the next week, I was cleaning out one of my father’s dresser drawers and came across one of his pay stubs. It was that stub that broke me down. I cried and I cried and I cried. It broke me down because I did not realize just how little my father earned from his factory job. In fact, I started as a secretary for a large corporation  upon graduating from college making more than my dad did for the twenty plus years that he had worked at that factory.  What got me was the fact that he and my mom had always kept a roof over me and my sister’s head, food on the table, clothes on our backs and had sent me to college and my sister to art school; all on that tiny salary. I could not believe what was before my eyes as I read the numbers on that pay stub. The numbers just did not add up to what my father was able to accomplish and yet he did indeed accomplish it. He knew how to save and not live beyond his means. He knew how to bargain and spend wisely. He knew how to manage money. I am an elementary school principal, professor and many other titles, making three to four times as much as I saw on that pay stub that day and still struggle to make ends meet.  My hats off to my father James Allen Medley (April 14, 1936- April 7, 1985). He truly was an exemplary dad. I can only hope that I have been as good of a father to my four daughters as he was to me and my sister. This story is written in memory of James Allen Medley.

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