A Family Tree Strengthened by Fathers

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By Paula Deen

This Father’s Day I can’t help but look at my son Jamie with his two boys crawling all over him, and think about how much the times have changed.  Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to see the role of fatherhood change with the tides. Back when I was growing up, it was a man’s world, y’all, and no one knew this more than Granddaddy Paul. He was a product of his time. He was a very clever businessman and liked to spend his money on nice things, like buying himself a new Lincoln Continental every year. I can remember he and my grandmother having very loud “discussions,” and I’ll bet he came out on the winning end most of the time.

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My two boys, Jamie and Bobby, when they were very young. It seems like just yesterday! Who would have ever thought they would grow into such handsome men!

I knew better than to aggravate Granddaddy Paul, but it was a different story with Granddaddy Heirs. He grew up in the same era, but he was more tolerant of children—especially a little She-Devil like myself. He was a very quiet, tall, beautiful man with piercing blue eyes and dark hair that covered his arms. I would run by and twist the hair on his arms. Then I’d give him a few minutes to forget about it before I’d run by again with a comb, snatching the hair out of his arm. Only once did I make him furious—furious beyond belief. His Social Security check had come in and I hid it. I let him look for a long time. I thought I’d be the hero when I told him where it was—like I had found it—but he didn’t see it that way. He went bananas. I remember telling Grandma to tell my Aunt Jessie to come get me ‘cause I was sure Granddaddy hated me.

My own daddy wasn’t perfect—he aggravated Momma plenty playing cards with the boys and coming home late—but perfect never mattered to me. He was a wonderful man who provided for his family. He was very loving and playful, but he could be really stern when he had something important to say, like when I would forget my place.

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My husband, Michael, and his two wonderful children, Michelle and Anthony.

Things are so different nowadays. Father’s have a much bigger role in their children’s lives. They don’t just swoop in for dinner and a scolding. They change diapers, they make dinner, they sit in the carpool line. They step up to the plate, like my husband Michael did. He got custody of his children when Anthony was 14 and Michelle was 16 and worked 120 hours a week. But he never backed away. He met the challenges of raising two teenagers alone head-on.

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My brother, Bubba, with my boys, Jamie and Bobby, when they were all younger. Bubba was and still is such a help to me.

Bubba faced some similar challenges with a no nonsense approach to parenting. He taught his children to be independent—to make decisions on their own. It was his way of preparing them for the world and I’m certain it was a priceless gift.

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My son, Jamie, with his beautiful wife, Brooke, and two sons, Matthew and Jack.

But I have to admit that Jamie is one of the most fabulous fathers that I’ve had the pleasure of watching. When it comes to his children, he has got the patience of Job. He truly lives every day for his children. And Jack Deen thinks his daddy could move the moon. He tells me how he has to “cuddle buddle” with his daddy every night. I can’t imagine my daddy tucking me into bed each night, but I sure wish I could.

And when it’s Bobby’s turn to take on the role of fatherhood, I know he’ll do a wonderful job. I try to tell him that and he just laughs at me. I guess you have to experience parenthood in order to discover that you can love somebody that much—you can’t tell somebody what that’s gonna feel like. 

Sometimes I’m worried about where this world is headed, but less so when I think of the wonderful fathers who are truly available—physically, financially, spiritually and emotionally—for their families. Those are the men I thank my lucky stars for each and every Father’s Day.

___

I’ve been blessed with a big, wonderful family—and I don’t mean “family” just in the sense of blood relations. See, I consider all of the special people in my life as family, and I treat them as such, keeping them close to my heart. I’m especially thankful for the stand-up, generous, and talented men in my life, who have been fiercely loyal to me since the day we met.

imageBarry is my agent and business manager who has been on this wild roller-coaster with me for years, giving me the guidance and advice I need to keep my head above water. In a lot of ways, he’s like a father figure, always looking out for my best interests.
imageBrandon, my assistant, is my bread and butter. He’s a part of everything in my life, bringing creativity and beauty to all that he touches. Sometimes I don’t know how he puts up with me day in and day out—but I’m sure glad he does.
imageHollis started working with me years ago as a driver. He still travels everywhere with me, but now as my personal security detail. He’s a protector by nature and I couldn’t imagine my life without him watching my back.
imageJamie Cribbs, my personal hairstylist, is the beautiful man who transforms me into something safe for public viewing. His infectious laugh and heartwarming smile is the light in my day.
imageKarl is the CFO of Paula Deen Enterprises and has been with me for about 19 years. He started off as my accountant back when I didn’t have much to “account” for.  He’s got a heart of gold and wouldn’t hurt a fly.
imagePatrick is my tireless groundskeeper and I love him and his wife Amanda (who also works for me) with all my heart. He’s always thinking of others before himself, helping out in any way he can. It goes without saying that he’s the hardest worker I know.

 

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Reader Comments:

54321

Paula, Thank you for sharing your story. My father died when I was in 3rd grade of Cancer. And All the years I had with him even part time(my mother and dad divorced when I was a baby) He was the greatest. He taught me so much in the little time I had with him. I never heard him raise his voice even when he was tested with the evil people that make them selves known. He taught me to always tell the truth no matter what. To always live a good life and believe in God. he told me stay in school. Oh how I missed him in my young years as a teen ager. But I sure hope I have made him proud. I will visit his grave today and I still cry after 43 years with out him.

By Anonymous on June 17, 2012

54321

Another Daddy's girl right here. smile My parents had 5 kids - the first was born in 1943 & the last one showed up in 1966. (I'm #4.) Daddy was ahead of his time in that he loved nothing more than spending time with his family. Sled riding, bike riding, fishing, camping, yard work, vacations...to him, it wasn't worth doing if he couldn't share it with his kids. He used to help my little sister & I get ready for church on Sundays; he'd help us put on our tights (remember those?), while Mom was wrestling with her girdle. wink And he was the best "doctor" ever, whether it was tending to a scraped elbow or digging out a splinter. He made it all better again just by being there. I've got a gazillion memories (he died in 2007 at the age of 86), but this is one of my favorites. My first day of driver's ed was a total disaster - my confidence was in the toilet. As it happened, Daddy was taking my sister & me to St Louis that night to a baseball game (100 miles away). He wanted ME to drive. Are you insane, Dad? But, he was adamant (even thouh my sister was terrified!), so I drove...all the way down there, through downtown St Louis, parked the car in a parking garage, and then drove all the way home. We pulled into the driveway...I shut off the car & looked at Daddy. With a big ole grin, he said, "See? I told you - nothing to it." And I never had another bad day at driver's ed. I thank God for blessing me with such a wonderful father. I miss him oh so much, but I carry him with me always...because that's the kind of love that never dies.

By Janet Burrus on June 17, 2012

54321

My Mom and I just love your show..I was a daddy's girl too..actually I was a daddy's tomboy, my dad was born and raised in Nashville TN and was a total cowboy at heart. for the last 10 yrs he lived in Wickenburg AZ and up until recently I did too, you see in Aug 2010, I uprooted my whole life to move to AZ to take care of my dad, he was ill and wanted to get out of the nursing home he was in and go home..After praying about it God told me loud and clear to go take care of my daddy..you know Paula I arrived there on Aug.31st and unfortunately on Sept. 2nd he passed away just 2 days later..he died 1 month before his 75th birthday..My dad wasn't a true believer in the Lord, so I had just one day with him knowing it was going to be soon..he could not talk to me, so I did all the talking and I sang a gospel song my brother wrote and I believe he is with the Lord now...thanks for hearing my story

By Liz Shockley on June 17, 2012

54321

Today is a mixed.blessing of sadness and happiness. Happy that my only child is now father to his precious baby girl and sad because my sweet daddy left this world just 7 months ago. He did not get to meet his great granddaughter Also sad because tomorrow is his birthday and he would be 90.

By Melissa on June 17, 2012

54321

When my dad passed in 1982, my sisters and I were remembering all the good times we had with my dad. Imagine our surprise when we all announced we were daddy's girl! What a wonderful father to impart that to all his girls smile

By Rox Ventura on June 17, 2012

54321

paula i remmber your granddsaddy paul as my uncle johnny wken heand your grangmother paul woukd come to atlanta to see her sisters mary and my mother erlene, he was a man of his time and live life his way and love all of his family, your cus earl dempsey cook

By earl dempsey cook on June 17, 2012

54321

Thank you, Paula. You share so much with us, your audience. Sometimes I wonder if you have ANY privacy. But, I guess if you didn't want to you wouldn't. So, I appreciate it. You have a heart of gold and I can hear the love and concern for all your "family". That was a beautiful, heart-felt article that brought up many memories of my own Great-Grandpas, Grandpas, uncles,my husband,and my Dad, who is still with us. But, as the years progress I don't look forward to the day he won't be. So, thanks for sharing, it helps us all appreciate more those special men in our lives. God bless--Chris S Appleton, WI

By Chris Smith on June 16, 2012

54321

Happy Fathers Day to Michael & Jamie...and all those in our memories of days gone by...they all had some influence on our lives growing up...no cuddling from my father either, but memories of giving a goodnight kiss on his cheek (as a youngster) as he was resting in his big rocker in front of the fireplace,his favorite peaceful and resting place in the house. Paula, your sharing of family is very heart warming and interesting....thanks for you!!

By Anonymous on June 15, 2012

54321

I SO HEAR U PAULA. MY FATHER WAS NOT AROUND MOST OF MY GROWING UP, BUT HE WAS WITH US PRIOR TO HIS DEATH WHEN I WAS 12, I WILL ALWAYS CHERRISH THAT TIME. I SO WISH HE HAD TAUGHT ME HOW HE MADE HIS FIRE ENGINE CHILI. I AGREE ABOUT PAYING TRUIBE TO THOSE MALE FIGURES WHO HAVE MADE AN IMPACT AND INFLUNECES ON OUR LIVES. AND THERE HAVE BEEN MANY. CAN;T WAIT TILL JAMIE AND HIS NEW SHOW COME ON THIS SAT. DO HOPE U AND MIKE AND BOBBI WILL BE IN SOME. I SO ENJOY WHEN YOUR AUNT PEGGY IS AROUND. I NEVER HAD THE PLEASURE OF SPENDING TIME IN KITCHEN WITH MINE. U ARE SO BLESSED TO STILL HAVE AN UNCLE AND AN AUNT. HOPE MIKE HAS A WONDERFUL FATHER;S DAY. KEEP COMING INTO OUR HOMES AND MAKING US FEEL SO WELCOME IN YOUR KITCHEN. WE LOVE U VERY MUCH AND U ARE FAMILY NOT JUST ANOTHER PERSON ON TV. HUGS ROSIE IN CT.

By r.herdman on June 13, 2012

54321

Paula, I know you will probably never read this note, what with all the help, secretaries, etc, but I just wanted to tell you the story above was just heart warming! You are my idol, and at age 75 now, there are few! Your boys are precious too. Our family used to be just like yours and actually still would be had we not grown so old and scattered across the country. Just one thing tho--it is p-con, not pcan! Love you lots, Joyce

By Joyce Harville on June 13, 2012

54321

You are as warm as the way you say butter. Your heart melts those who are cold. God bless you Paula, you are a good woman, mother, grandma and wife. <\\\>< <3

By Jackie Schell on June 13, 2012

54321

I GREW UP IN THE FIFTIES AND SIXTIES IN A SMALL TOWN IN OKLAHOMA. MY FATHER DROVE TAXI FOR A LIVING. HE HAD BEEN MARRIED AND HAD SEVEN CHILDREN BY HIS FIRST WIFE. HE BURIED TWO OF HIS BABIES AND HIS FIRST WIFE. LESS THAN A YEAR LATER HE MARRIED MY MOTHER. THEY WERE MARRIED 14 YEARS BEFORE I WAS BORN. HE WAS FIFTY-FOUR AND MOTHER WAS FORTY-ONE WHEN I WAS BORN. HE BECAME A GRANDPA, A DAD AND THEN A GRANDPA AGAIN IN A PERIOD OF THREE WEEKS. HE WAS SEVENTY-TWO YEARS OLD WHEN I GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL. I LOST HIM WHEN I WAS TWENTY-SEVEN YEARS OLD. HE HAS BEEN GONE FOR THIRTY-SIX YEARS AND THERE ISN'T A DAY GOES BY THAT I DON'T MISS HIM. HE WAS MY ROCK AND MY STABILITY. THANK YOU FOR LISTENING. SINCERELY, SUSAN KENDALL

By SUSAN KENDALL on June 12, 2012

54321

Loved reading the Father's day stories and especially your appreciation of all the men in your company who make your everyday life more fulfilling. Paula Deen - My favorite recipe "go to" for anything I want to cook

By Shirley on June 12, 2012

54321

paula, loved the story of your father figures. my daddy was from the old school and there was no hugging between father and son and no crying, unless it was from a whipping. and then, you had better stifle it when told to do so. later in years, my daddy and i did start to hug a little and i often told him i loved him. (we got pass the handshake when we would get around each other.) but, he passed away before we really did tear that old-school barrier down. i am glad for the progress that was made. i still miss him--he passed away in 1984.

By e gibson on June 12, 2012

54321

Thank you for this, Mrs. Paula. I can't help but still feel sad for Bubba re: Jay's passing.

By Kay McCullough on June 12, 2012

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hi! wink i was wondering if you could share the recipe for the chiken/grape salad-the one that is pictured on the croissant above? thanks! wink sandra
Sandra Neuheimer-Huller in Chicken Salad: A Southern Staple on April 19, 2014 at 10:37 am

Where do I buy these magazines
in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 8:22 am

I WISH I COULD COOK. COULD I COME WORK FOR JUST ROOM AND BOARD AT YOUR NEW RESTURAUNT IN PIGEON FORGE FOR THE SUMMER? I WENT TO COLLEGE NOT FAR FROM THERE - HIWASSEE COLLEGE. YOU WOULDN'T HAVE TO PAY ME, I WOULD WORK FOR FREE JUST FOR THE EXPERIENCE. TAMMY LEVAN 19 SPENCER WAY KINGS PARK, NY 11754 HAPPY EASTER! CHRIST IS RISEN!
TAMMY L LEVAN in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 4:31 am

Hi Bubbles, You have some great tips. Can't wait to read your other blogs! Please give Aunt Peggy a big hug from me and here is one for you! (((HUGS))) See you in May!
Jaci Pardun in 10 Quick Household Tips on April 18, 2014 at 11:05 pm

Paula, I am glad to know that I am not the only person who makes Easter Baskets for their adult children and mail them across the United States. My Daughter lives in Long Beach, CA and I not only sent her a basket but her husband and my granddaughter Reese. We also buy special Russel Stover Bunnies for each child too. My husband has the list in his phone... Sara .. Cookies 'n Crème.... Sidney and Stephen.. Peanut Butter Etc. It one of my favorite things to do for my kids.. no matter how old they get. And passing it along to my Grandchildren. It's even more special to me knowing we share a family tradition. Blessings and Happy Easter!!
Sharon Cason-Card in A Basketful of Traditions on April 18, 2014 at 11:03 pm