Happy Birthday, Dad!
By Deana Nall
Published October 26, 2005
Winston Hamby turned 70 last week.
That’s not something that made the papers, so I’ve decided to put it in the paper myself.
I wouldn’t be alive today it weren’t for Winston. And not just because he’s my dad. He really did save my life once.
I was two years old, and we were riding a horse together at a camp in northern New Mexico. Something spooked the horse, and it threw both of us high into the air. My dad managed to land on the horse, but my small body was falling swiftly toward the ground.
In a split-second effort to prevent a tragedy, my dad stuck his arm out and caught me by my neck in the crook of his elbow. In the stunned silence that followed, I hung from his arm, choking and gasping for air. But I was OK.
My dad was 35 when I was born. Most of my friends’ dads were 10 and 15 years younger than he was. I heard a lot of “Deana, your grandpa’s here to pick you up!” when I was a kid.
But I never cared about the age difference. That’s because my dad was a lot more fun than those other dads. He was a minister, and we never had a ton of money, but he still splurged on me. When I was about nine, he rented the local skating rink for just the two of us. It was an old, run-down skating rink, and for two hours we skated around on the aging wooden floors and played 45s on the record player in the DJ booth.
In the summers, when a lot of my friends went on expensive vacations to places like Disney World, we traveled to Beaumont to visit my dad’s family. He would drive me around and show me his old schools and tell me about life as a teenager in the ’50s. Because of his stories, I developed an appreciation for the music and cars of the era.
“I wish,” he would tell me. “That you could have been in high school with me. We would have had a blast.”
It’s amazing what dads will do for their daughters. When I won first place in an art contest in elementary school, my dad stood in the hallway near my painting for the better part of a day and let passersby know that it was his daughter who had painted it. I was so embarrassed. But he was just being a proud dad.
He’s still unabashedly proud of me. When I started writing for The Baytown Sun, he sent a letter to the editor gushing about how wonderful my writing was. He neglected to mention that he was my dad, and the letter got printed.
My dad was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy a few years ago. It’s a good bet he’ll never wear skates again. But he’s still the same dad — showering his granddaughters with the love and attention he gave me when I was growing up. .
Good parents pass the best of themselves on to their children. And they teach them what’s truly important in life — not money, but God, family and laughter. My dad gave me all of that and a whole lot more.
Happy birthday, Dad. And thanks for catching me that day.