Updated: Jul 3
Matthew 19:19. “Honor your father and mother…”
My father passed away in 1995 and mother in 2007. I love them both dearly, and mean no harm to their honor when I share my story. It is my story to tell. I have learned more about them since they passed away than I ever did growing up. They were busy doing their jobs and taking care of house, cars, groceries, cooking, laundry - all the stuff now called "adulting". My sister and I went to school, did our homework and played outside and practically raised ourselves. They were good parents. They loved us. Mom was present in our lives and at the school on PTA. I honestly believe they did the best they could do for my sister and I. They struggled. Dad was a bartender and mom was a waitress. They both worked nights and some weekends, so we always had a babysitter. They lived on their tips and the grace of God.
Mom left for work around 5:30 pm. Dinner was always at 4:30 as Dad went to work at 5 pm and slept until 11 am the next day. This meant we saw him from afterschool (3) until he went to work at 5pm and on the weekends when he wasn’t playing golf, which he did every weekend. When we did spend time with him, he didn’t really know what to do with two little girls – so when he was coaxed by our mom to spend time he would take us to play mini-golf. He liked to take us there because that way he could practice his putting game and teach us something about the sport he loved. It made my sister and I happy to just be spending time with him. We liked playing mini-golf. In fact my home town mini-golf course is the one that was used in the filming of the movie "American Grafitti. Do you remember the big green dinosaur and the flying duck? Watch the movie and you will see the duck when the characters walk in and head to the pinball machines. Gotta be quick tho - it's only a 3 second shot. I couldn't find a photo for you. I tried.
My sister Kim and I always said yes to mini-golf because one time our mom said - why don't you take then to see a movie. So he loaded us in the car on two separate movie outings. The first was to see Lawrence of Arabia.
Really dad!!?? I was like 7 years old, this movie was clearly for adults. This is a free image of a camel walking in the desert and the only part of the movie I can even remember. I did not understand that movie one bit. It was so boring. The second movie he took us to was Jaws.
This is not that mechanical shark. This is a free image of a shark that looks like it. that movie scared me so much!! Now I won't swim in the ocean.
My parents divorced when I was 16 and we didn't see my dad much after the divorce. I got married and had kids and I wanted my Dad to know his grandchildren and I wanted my children to know him. I learned more about my father during his last 4 years of his life and after his death. In fact, I learned that I had other siblings that he fathered and put up for adoption. This was all when he was young and unmarried. Now I have two more sisters in my life thanks to ancestry.com. I have been able to tell them about their dad and we have formed a bond that will last. We laugh and we cry about it all, but we honor and love because that is what God calls us to do. We feel gipped, but we feel grateful too. We just want to enjoy what we have now, and not live with regret for what happened a long time ago that was beyond our control. Now we look at our similarities, our likes, and dislikes - even mannerisms - and enjoy spending time together. Life is rich.
This brings me to my painting. I wanted to give you a little backstory so you would understand who Jollie Ollie was and is to me. I wanted to create a painting that honored my father. One that spoke about his life, his love for golf, his gift of gab, the twinkle in his eye, and his love for the ladies. He once told me that he had fully intended to be a confirmed bachelor. He never wanted to get married and he never wanted kids. He told me that when I introduced him to his grandchildren for the first time. Oh dad. He said he loved my mom and so he married her. She was 3 months pregnant with my sister. You would think him telling me this would hurt my feelings, but it doesn’t. It actually helped me understand him better. I knew he loved me. My dad liked to laugh, tell stories and sing. When he was just 18 years old he served in the US Navy and was a gunner's mate in the Korean War. On his weekend days off he spent his time reading the National Geographic Magazine and the World Book of Encyclopedias. He was very interested in his ancestry dating back to the kings of Europe. He ate M&M’s and Snicker bars. He watched Golf on t.v. and played it twice a week. He was so close to being a professional golfer – which was his dream. He wanted to be a Pro at a Golf course and give up bartending. That dream of his did not come true but he was always under par when he played. Dad had a box on his dresser for his watch and cufflinks. It was inscribed “Jolly Ollie” as that was his nickname. And "jollie" he was. He never raised his voice. He was kind to everyone and he was always smiling.
This is a photo of my dad. L. Oliver, Jr. aka "Jollie Ollie"
And this is a painting I did capturing him in his element. No, it doesn't look just like him. I'm not that good with painting realistic faces, but this painting makes me smile. I love and miss you dad. You would be so happy to know that all your kids found each other. Rest in peace.