Life flashes in fits and starts; ups, downs and we sometimes experience it with a big BANG. When one of The Daytrippers Team had a delicate discussion with a mother whose 4-year-old daughter was recently admitted into a childrens hospice; the word used to describe her life was heavy. She went on to say how time stopped and she began to see through a new unsettling lens – constantly desperate for every second with her child – she did not want to blink for fear she might miss a single moment. All people in hospice care can cling to hope and may or may not know how fleeting time ticks. Every minute of every life is significant.
Bobby Pennington age two in 1933.
There is a very special grandfather, husband, father and son currently experiencing hospice. His name is BOBBY PENNINGTON and he’s 83 years young. Mr. Pennington was born in Smithville, Mississippi in 1931 and grew to dedicate his free time to music. His parents saved their money to buy him a guitar and he practised every day. His focus on music was serious and he excelled so much that he would regularly show up to school late and leave early in order to make it to radio stations to record with different bands. He even played with Elvis once. When he was 15 he started playing shows in the evenings. And that, was how he met his first wife. She stayed late after a show one night to introduce herself to him and after a fair amount of correspondence – she snuck out of boarding school the following year after they first met; took a rogue taxi down to Mississippi and the two of them eloped. They were both 16.
Bobby’s first guitar.
Married life was a challenge as an aspiring southern musician. Therefore after touring with Bill Gould and the Circle H Cowboys in Dallas, Texas; Mr. Pennington returned to Mississippi to wait for the next musical opportunity. It was at that time his father-in-law gently encouraged him to further his education. He somewhat reluctantly agreed and went on to university while playing in a local band on the weekends. As time rolled on, Bobby Pennington eventually settled down in Perry, Georgia where he was principal of Perry Middle School until he retired. He has written a biography called Goin’ Over Fools Hill. Below he answers some questions for We Are Daytrippers about his life and opinions:
The Daytrippers Team: What is one of the greatest moments in your life? Bobby Pennington: “I will never forget waiting for my eldest daughter to be born. This was a big moment because I was clueless, but thrilled. We were at the hospital in Amory, Mississippi when my wife went into labor and I was pacing floors with my mind blown. I was waiting and waiting and waiting and all the sudden I hear a cry. The doctor came out and he has the baby in his hands and says ‘here is your child.’ I picked her up, got a nice stare in, and then the doctor took her down the hall. I have never forgotten that feeling. I have had so many things happen in life that have had a lot of meaning; things that have been given to me and done for me and I appreciate that all so much … but I will never forget that feeling of elation when Nan was born. So I went down the hallway and just beamed saying ‘I’m a daddy!’ * The Daytrippers Team: What are some of your greatest fears? Bobby Pennington: “To be cut off from society, not to have any friends and not have people to converse with about life. I have a fear of dying, of having to live in a new place or to be alone without people to talk to.” The Daytrippers Team: Who was your role model growing up? Bobby Pennington: “My Dad. He did not have any formal education and I think he stopped going to school in the 7th grade. But with no education, he still provided for his family, took care of my mother and even splurged on me when he did not have the money in order for me to be successful. I think he bought things for me that he could not afford because he wanted me to be something that he could not be. I felt that. He made me feel as if I was special because I was special to him. I feel like I never gave my Dad the respect that was due to him. I was young and felt chagrin for my parents if they did not say or do the right thing. When I would visit him in his office and first started playing music he would look at me and say ‘son, you really made a hit with em’ today’ and at the time I didn’t understand that those words were his way of congratulating me. The sacrifices he made in life mean the world to me now. I’ll never forget when I played with Bill Gould we were in Little Rock, Arkansas and Bill called the first tune and said it would be The Waltz you Saved For Me. I thought that was a peculiar choice as that was usually one of the last tunes played in an evening. But we started playing that tune and in waltzed my mother and father. They had driven all the way from Smithville, Mississippi to see me at work. It was a surprise for me that Bill Gould knew about all along. My parents loved to waltz, they were in heaven when they were waltzing. Sometimes I feel like success is measured when a child has made his parents proud. That is how I felt at the time.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUjWqh6ow9s The Daytrippers Team: What do you believe is the most important thing in a relationship? Bobby Pennington: “Honesty. Of course everyone makes mistakes and no one is perfect. But if you are completely honest with each other about imperfections, then you can get by. You can get by anything as long as you are honest. Another important thing is that you can forgive anyone as long as you know that you receive the same kind of truth. If one person is an honest person and the other is not, it will not work. If you can be honest, I believe you can also forgive and exist together with more purity.” The Daytrippers Team: What do you believe creates problems in a relationship? Bobby Pennington: “False friends. Friendship is one of the most cherished relationships and when someone takes advantage or intentionally makes a mockery of friendship that can be one of the most damaging experiences. I think the motive is often to impress someone else.” The Daytrippers Team: What are your thoughts about getting older? Bobby Pennington: “I know I am at the end of my life span. I am trying to do things that will extend my life, like many people do – but I have to do a bit of planning for things like – where I’m going to have my funeral, who will speak and my grave site. It’s not to be morbid, but we must be practical. I’m still trying to enjoy life and be with people I love as much as I can. I feel apprehensive about not being here. The preparation for death is not a positive experience so I try to mix it up with a lot of other things that bring me happiness. Good memories help and places to visit.” The Daytrippers Team: Where was one of your greatest journeys? Bobby Pennington: “15 years ago my wife and I went to Paris and the temperature was just right. We visited the Louvre. I really enjoyed the museums and seeing the eiffel tower and everything I had seen in books for years. I had better feet then too of course. We walked a lot and things were so different than the US. The city impressed this old Mississippi boy. But any place with my wife is a thrill anyway! She’s a sharp traveller.”
Bobby, Brook and Vivian in Georgia, 2012
The Daytrippers Team: Thank you Papaw Bobby, I love you – Brook http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgTe8URXQ1A *His eldest daughter was within earshot. I think he wanted her to know her birth was the greatest moment in his life which says a lot about Mr. Pennington. If you have questions for Bobby Pennington please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org