Memories of Dad - by Phillip Garrison
One of the memories I have of dad, is one night back in the late 60’s, as was his custom, to look out the bedroom window of the apartment we lived at in Austin, Tx, right before bed. The parking lot where our car was parked, was just about 100 ft away. He saw 2 men breaking into our car. He immediately grabbed his 32 caliber, silver plated, Browning semiautomatic pistol, and headed out the door. I saw him grab the pistol, so I immediately ran to my bedroom window and looked out – I knew immediately what the problem was as I looked at our car. I watched him go out and walk right up to the 2 men, who by now were inside our car trying to hotwire it. He pointed the gun right at them, and asked them to get out, which they promptly did. But no sooner were they out, they started running for the empty grassy field not too far away. Dad followed them with the pistol, and fired off 3 rounds at them. I couldn’t believe it!! I was 10 yrs old at the time, and I still remember to this day the excitement that I felt as I was thinking “WOW – this is sooo coool – my dad was shooting at the bad guys just like the police do on TV!!!!“ As a side note, he didn’t hit any of them, but they were so scared they stopped running, and he held them until the Police arrived.
Dad always had time to spend with me no matter how busy he was. After we moved out to Lake Travis, he never said no to me if I wanted to go water skiing (unless I had chores to do – that was different) even if he was bone tired from work that day. He would also sit for hours on the dock while I scuba dived, just to make sure I came back OK. Or help me work on my dirt bike – and transporting me to motocross races on the weekends. But I knew he really loved me later in life when, after getting my private pilots license, he and mom were willing to get into the airplane with me, and be my first passengers! That took real courage!
As tough as he was when I was growing up, as soon as he became a grandfather to two little girls, he magically changed. He would let them crawl onto his back and play horse. One time he was their model. They covered his face with makeup, gave him a wig, and even put jewelry on him. I think he enjoyed it as much as they did! Just as he loved to take me out water skiing, he always was ready to take the girls out for a boat ride, or pull them behind the boat on a tube. One of the funniest things that happened on the boat was when Natalie handed him what he thought was a piece of trash. He tossed it out into the water not knowing that it was her tooth that had just fallen out!
Dad was a tough man with a heart of gold. He would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it (and maybe if you didn’t). He had a rough exterior, but when it came down to the important things in life, he was gentle and loving. I think the greatest act of his courage and gentleness is how he handled having cancer and the pain that went with it. Not once did he complain about it. He would tell me he had to take a “pain pill” but that was just one Tylenol. He was in quite a bit of pain, but never let on and never complained.
Dad was obviously gutsy and courageous. But first and foremost, he was a loving husband, and father. All my years growing up, I never felt like I was second place in his life – he was a hard worker at his job, but I knew that mom and I always came first in his life. I never felt any other way about it. In the last few years, Lori would take the girls to visit my parents. She tells me that as soon as they walked in the door, the first question he asked was, “Where’s Phillip?” In a day when dads don’t always spend time with their kids, Dad set the best example for me.