Daddy’s right ear had a two-inch half-moon scallop missing. I had heard whispers from my older sisters that he lost that piece of ear in a bar fight in the wild years before he met Mother and got “saved.”I would sit close to him on a slippery wooden pew at the Brandon Baptist Church on Sunday mornings.
On Sundays, he wore a suit. His face was so close-shaven and scrubbed it glowed, and when he smiled, I really could see a window into heaven.
I loved sitting close to him. Wholesome smells of blue Zest soap, starch, shoe polish and Old Spice aftershave mingled with a pleasantly masculine tobacco note. Daddy loved Orange Slice candy, and the smell of orange blossoms and sugar lingered in his wake.
His right pants pocket always jingled with keys, and his back pocket held the ubiquitous flat brown pocketbook of the working man. He would reach around to pull it out when the offertory began and open it to inventory his folding money.
Mother kept her head high, face forward. Daddy held the open wallet in his left hand, while the fingers of his right hand counted the cost. It was a moment of small drama as the deacons drew near to our row with the offering plate. Sometimes, if Daddy hadn’t pulled out a bill and the men were four rows away and closing, Mother couldn’t stand it any longer. “Wallace!” He never looked up, but came to a decision, pulled out several soft faded green bills, smoothly slid his billfold into his back pocket, sat up straight and placed the bills into the collection plate just as the deacon reached past me to get it close to Daddy.