Scrolling through The Times-Gazette’s general email account the other day I came across something that stopped me in my tracks. It was an obituary, and the name attached to it said Daisy Richardson.
Hoping it wasn’t the Daisy Richardson I knew in my late teens and early 20s, I opened the email. Sadly, it was the Daisy I knew.
I had not seen Daisy for several years. The last time was when one of her granddaughters was playing a high school softball game in Chillicothe and I happened to be covering the game as a reporter. We chatted a bit, then went our separate ways.
It had been several more years before that since I had run into Daisy. But in those years long past when her youngest child, Jeff, and I ran around together a lot, I spent a good bit of time at their home. She left a lasting impression on me.
When I must have been 18 or so the Richardson family moved to Greystone Drive in Hillsboro. One afternoon I drove over to check out the new place. I parked my Ford Pinto in the driveway and went inside. I visited for a few minutes, then decided to leave. But when I stepped outside my car was no longer in the driveway.
I had never been to the house before, so I thought maybe I had exited the wrong door, even though the driveway told me otherwise. So, I knocked on the door again and when someone answered, I sheepishly asked, “Is this the same door I came in?”
They said that, yes, it was, and as my face reddened with embarrassment, I replied, “Well, I can’t find my car.”
If you know the Richardsons, you also know you’re not going to get off real easy when you ask a stupid question. So, after everyone had a pretty good laugh, we all started looking around. Then someone saw it – like 100 yards away.
My car had rolled backwards out of the driveway, across Greystone Drive, through a side yard, missed a garage by a handful of feet, then came to rest with its back bumper against a tree beyond the garage. The only damage to my little Pinto was a dent in the bumper that was so small you had to look hard to find it.
You can imagine the ribbing I took the next several times I went to leave the Richardson home.
Most of the time when I went to the Richardson’s it had something to do with playing ball. Usually it was softball, but it could be anything. Jeff and I had been on the Hillsboro track team together and we shared that interest. Her oldest son, Sam, ran track for a time at the University of Louisville, and running, or more often than not running shoes, was a topic of conversation.
Sometimes Jeff and I would play football in the Richardson’s backyard against Sam and his buddy, Mike Richmond. A couple times Jeff and I walked down the street to shoot hoops with one of the Richardson’s neighbors, Chris West. We played lots of softball games together, and sometimes we’d go out to the local softball fields and practice hitting and fielding. Sometimes we’d just toss a ball back and forth.
The only time or two I ever stripped tobacco was at the Richardson home. I watched Super Bowl XV there between the Oakland Raiders and Philadelphia Eagles in January of 1981. Often, I just went there to spend time with my friends.
Almost always, Daisy was there.
Daisy was a small woman, but she had a feisty spirit. I don’t think I ever saw her really angry, but I always got the impression that if someone crossed her, there’d be heck to pay.
But that’s not what stands out in my mind about her. No, what I really remember is that she was like a second mother to me, probably many others others, too. She was kind, a little gruff on the exterior, understanding, funny, firm, and a bit of a change from what I was used to.
Daisy entered my life at a time when I was trying to figure out where that life was headed, even though I didn’t know it at the time. You know, it’s that time in life when you don’t pay as much attention to your parents as you should, and are maybe more apt to listen to elders outside the family circle.
Jeff and I could be more than a little ornery. Daisy knew that. We rarely left their home without being offered a little guidance. It likely helped me more than I will ever know.
So Daisy, thanks, for being a friend and an extra mom, and for putting up with our shenanigans.
I know you wouldn’t stand for me getting all sentimental, so I’ll leave you with this. Each time I find myself on Greystone Drive, I slow down a bit as I pass your old house, and let the memories come flooding back. They sure do make me smile.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.