Some Big Shoes to Fill

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Some Big Shoes to Fill

By Paula Deen

If you know me, you know my daddy, Earl Hiers, because this apple didn’t fall too far from the tree. This month, he’ll have been gone 45 years, but he’s with me everyday, showing up every time somethin’ tickles my funny bone—which happens a lot.  He taught me that you can’t take yourself too seriously. No one likes a stick in the mud. Daddy couldn’t even bring himself to discipline Bubba and me. He left that to Momma. Lord knows we needed it, but he just couldn’t bring himself to get angry enough to do much about it. It wasn’t his style. When he came home from work, he’d get Bubba and me all riled up. We’d laugh until our sides ached, or until Momma fussed at him and made us settle down for dinner. Daddy never laid a hand on me. Not once. He didn’t have to because I had so much respect for him. If I ever thought I disappointed my daddy, I’d have to go straight to bed. It would’ve crushed me.

Sure, Daddy worked hard and life dealt him some bad cards. He lost his leg at 16 and like most men at the time, spent his better years working long days. But he smiled and laughed through every blessing and hardship as if they were one and the same. That was his gift to me.

Memories of my daddy sneak up on me at funny times. Not too long ago, my friend and Culinary Producer, Libbie Summers, gave me the best idea. She had planted some flowers in an old ski boot and placed it on her porch. It was the sweetest, most unexpected thing. It reminded her of precious times she shared with her friends and family on ski trips to Colorado. I decided to do the same. I took a rubber boot, filled it with soil and transplanted my herbs from their pots. While I was working, I got to thinking about my Daddy and how he’d leave his shoes by the door so as not to upset Momma by tracking mud into the house. Like every kid, I’d slip my tiny foot into his shoe, certain I’d never be big enough to fill it. Thinking back on those moments, I now smile to myself, knowin’ that I’ve come pretty darn close.

Daddy gave me another important gift, and it’s one I don’t plan on squandering. He was only 40 years old when he passed, younger than both my boys. But his untimely death just a couple days before Father’s Day taught me that life is too short to waste it frettin’ about the things we can’t control. We need to take time out to enjoy the people and places around us. To tend our gardens. To find joy in the little things. To laugh. And in the end—whenever it comes—we, too, will leave behind some big shoes to fill.

Read More From Holidays and Entertaining.

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Reader Comments:


I miss Paula's TV show! Are there any recent ones on any channel? Can I be signed up to receive Paula deen emails?

By Deborah Winegar on March 18, 2014


Love your recipes, and your food show. I could not afford your pot and pans but I am sure they are great. Hang in there.

By Betty Y on August 05, 2013


thank you for sharing I lost my Dad 7yrs ago love him very much and miss him too!!! I too have memories of him He died June 20th after father's day!!!!!! Di Ann

By Di Ann Virden on July 05, 2013


I have always loved watching your show.The love between you and your family is palpable.I will continue to support you and your family.The bible says when one door closes another opens.I will continue to pray for you and your family.Please know that I am your faithful fan.I send you my love and prayers.Your Fan Always Elvia

By Elvia Guillen on June 26, 2013


Paula, thank you for sharing your heart about your fathers love. We lost our 29 year old daughter 13 years ago with ovarian cancer and I miss her each and every hour. I know she is sharing paradise with Our Lord,I feel it in my heart. I love your receipes so much and my daughter has ordered your magazine for me for Christmas---hooray--- now I ccok - cook and do more cooking. Keep up the great cooking By marilyn

By marilyn loveday on December 17, 2012


Had you said your daddy had been dead 38 years I would have thought we had the same dad. Mine never spanked me either and I was so scared I would dissapoint or hurt him. I miss him so badly and literally think of him daily, and now 38 years later my precious mother has gone to join him in their eternal home and she is on my mind daily .

By Linda on January 25, 2012


I have been taking care of my 4 year old niece for awhile now, and on fathers day I helped he make a card for her father, my brother. Our father passed away 8 years ago, he was 62, and we miss him dearly. Gabby my niece never met our father, so I was telling her all about him, and she already knew so much from hearing us talk about him. Just a lesson, when we don't think they are paying attention, they may be. Share your memories with your kids, nieces, nephews, any that will listen!!!

By eva woodworth on July 04, 2011


Father's Day is hard for me to celebrate. My Father physically abused me for many years. He is deceased now and I hope in Heaven.

By Ann Hill on June 21, 2011


I too lost my dad at a young age, he was only 56. Twenty years ago. So many funny stories, I tell my kids all the time. with all the memories I share with them along with the pictures never leaving the frige door,they really feel as if they knew him even though they were just babies when he passed. So important to keep the memories alive. That is the biggest tibute I can give to the most imortant man in my life.

By Diana Foley on June 20, 2011


Good Morning Paula, This was my first Father's Day without my Dad. He passed away in October at the age of 87! Like all little girls, my dad was the best! He never said an unkind word about people, because he always saw the best in people no matter what. We carried on the long tradition of having Father's Day at our home and even though Daddy wasn't here, he was with us in spirit! I hope you all had a wonderful Father's Day. Congrats on the new little Deen and God Bless you all!!

By Joanne H. Guasco on June 20, 2011


I love watching ur shows & the food u prepare on those shows....i love seeing ur family photos.....u r a very beautiful woman & u always make me laugh....i wish i was able to travel but my husband & i both have health problems....i would have loved eating at one of ur restaurants b/c ur food always looks so good & lusious.....i love ur recipes b/c u make them look so easy to make....our children make ur food recipes often....i like what u wrote about ur dad....God Bless u & ur family always.....

By Josie Nestor on June 19, 2011


Where to start....just read the note on your Daddy and it sounds too good to be Daddy was just the same as how you described your Dad. He too just passed June 1st, 2011 alittle before Father's Day which is today. It was a tough day but cherish the memories that he left me and they are so many. You have been one of my all time favorites and feel like I have so much in common with you, some of my friends call me the other Paula. Now with my Daddy being so close to what yours sounds like it is amazing. I admire what you have accomplished in your years and just love to watch you with your boys in the kitchen. You truely are amazing in my eyes and in my heart. Someday hope to be able to come and visit you in Savannah if not will meet with you in our home above. Blessings, Ronda Meckley

By Ronda Meckley on June 19, 2011


Thank you Paula!!!

By Marie Casutt on June 19, 2011


Paula you are so real, I think of you and your family as mine. I always love your shows because they are about your times with family and friends. I hope you never stop cooking, I would miss you so much. Jean Watson

By Anonymous on June 19, 2011


I read this story and just thought "how precious" your dad was. Also, how u respected him so much, sad that he died so very young. He sure did make a good impression on you, though. Love the story and the ski boot planting idea. Keep up the laughter Paula. U r an inspiration to all!!!

By Charlene Chapman on June 19, 2011


Loved your story about your Dad, I too lost my Dad, about 11 yrs ago, and I too remember he didn't lay a hand us either, my mother had to do all the hard work, bless her heart....but dad had a kind heart, always a smile. I miss him dearly, just writing this message brings me to tears......

By Marilyn Jahn on June 19, 2011


Oh, Paula what a touching story about your Dad. My Daddy died August 17. 1958 and I had just turned 3 July 20th,. My older brother was 7 at the time. My Daddy was only 38 years old. He died of Cancer and and during those days children could not go into hospitals to visit the sick. But, I remember two times I saw him Once was at a local hospital they rolled him out onto the ramp at the Emergency Room then the last time I saw him was in Winston-Salem NC at the Baptist Hospital. I stayed in the car with my Uncle David and Aunt Ruth while Mama went up to is room. Then I saw him come to the window wave at me, it would be the last time I would see him alive. I don't have memories of his Funeral just the stories family memvbers have told me. One thing I was told was that I would not leave his Grave side till I sung "Jesus Loves Me". He had to have been the one to teach me that. My mother had to be both Dad and Mama to us and for 53 years and she did so. We Just Lost our Mama May 13th, 2011 to Dementia. Almost 5 years in a Nursing Care Facility. We alternated taking turns to be with her, we washed , Ironed her clothes as she did ours all those years. I married a wonderful man who helped me with Mama but, I have two step-children who came from Divorce and don't except me I don't think. I try to tell them that "even tho Divorce is bad there is a silver lining they still have both parents who Love them. Love Ya'll Denise Cline

By Denise Cline on June 19, 2011


Love the story Paula. I need your help. You have a banana bread recipe, you put chocolate chips and sour cream. I had the recipe but a year ago when I moved to texas I couldn't find it. Please help me, I would love to make it again. Thank-you and God Bless!

By sandra koehler on June 19, 2011


Hi: Paula, I Love your all your shows Paula but, I have a question and I know you can tell me what to do. I live here in the South as well and when I make my Meringue for my pies, toast the tops bring them out they are beautiful, but, then they start pulling away from the edges and drip a clear sticky substance which I presume is the Meringue itself. What can I do for a beautiful Meringue that will not do this? Please Help Denise Statesville NC

By denise Cline on June 19, 2011


By Denise Cline on June 19, 2011

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