My daddy, Robert Floyd McMillan, was a special man – a kind and gentle soul - beloved by so many. He passed away suddenly and unexpectedly early Easter Morning, April 5th, 2015. Though our hearts were broken, we were thankful for the many wonderful memories we shared. The day after he died, I sat around Daddy’s kitchen table with my sisters Christy and Jackie, my stepmother Edith, my stepsister Robin, and Aunt Betty. We compiled some memorable stories about Daddy that we thought people would enjoy hearing. I wanted to read it myself the morning of the funeral, but Howard was afraid I couldn't hold up. (he was probably right) But sweet cousin Bobby Reed was so kind to jump right in early that morning at the last minute when I called him and read this for us during the service. It added such a light hearted and personal touch to daddy's service, and I have no doubt that Daddy would have loved it...
Daddy’s family and friends have many, many funny stories and fond memories of him through the years. Here are a few of them to share with you that we compiled:
When little sister Betty was a preteen, there were steps leading down into the basement of their home. One day Betty had found a pack of cigarettes and decided to light one up in the basement. Robert came walking up from the farm for lunch and spotted her smoking and said, “I’m going to tell Mama on you”. Betty quickly replied, “Go ahead. Then I’ll just let her know about those necked women playing cards of yours I found.” So needless to say, Robert kept his sister’s secret.
Always the ladies’ man, Robert started early. Whenever he was going on a date to the movie as a teenager, his parents, Bryce and Tode, would force him to take little sister Betty along. Since he didn’t want Betty going with him to the girl’s house, he’d drop Betty off early at the movie theater before it even opened and go and pick up his date. Then during the movie, poor Betty had to sit a mile away from Robert and his date. After the movie was over, he would leave Betty to wait on the curb with the night watchman while he took his date home. Finally, he’d come back and pick her up. Unfortunately for Robert, Betty was one who liked to get even. By the time they had neared the cattle gap at the driveway to the house, Betty would have her tears all worked up. Then once they got inside the house in front of Mama Tode, Betty’s tears would flow about how mean Robert had been to her and then Robert would get a whipping with the fly swatter.
During his teenage years, Robert drove the school bus for Batesville Elementary. Little Betty and future wife Edith Ferrell were two of his “students” on the bus. Quite often the girls arrived late to school. Although Robert was always a speed demon, his bus ended up arriving late quite often. He frequently picked bad places to turn the bus around, so he would end up landing in ditches, and then would have to wait for someone to come and pull the bus out, making everyone late for school.
Robert’s love of fast driving continued throughout his life. One year when leaving the coast from a high school state basketball tournament, he was leading a convoy of cars back to Batesville. His speed was so fast that not only did he (while driving a camper) get stopped for a ticket, but the three cars in the convoy who were following trying to keep up with him all got speeding tickets, too!
Robert loved vehicles, and one of his favorite vehicles was a Ford bronco, possibly because they had two fuel tanks and he could just keep on going without stopping for gas very often. Daughters Christy and Molly once had a wreck in his green and white bronco on Macedonia Road turning a corner in the loose gravel, but Robert loved that bronco and was bound and determined to keep it. Later on, daughter Jackie and friends Danielle Broome and Dovie Hardy flipped the same bronco on Highway 51. At that point, the bronco was damaged beyond repair and had to be replaced by Robert’s favorite, yet another bronco. Finally, he flipped the new bronco himself on the Tallahatchie River levee and his love affair with broncos came to an end.
Though the stories of all of Robert’s escapades are far too many to name, here’s the gist of just a few more of them --- He once shot the glass window out of a car while trying to get a big buck on the other side of a field. Another memorable event was when he decided to buy a buggy for his horse to pull. It seemed like a great idea, but on the maiden voyage, the buggy hit the horse in the rear-end and broke the buggy’s axle throwing all of the passengers out onto the ground. Another time he was shooting at a snake in a pond and accidentally shot a hole in his boat. And last but not least, once after a huge rain, he and his buddy Billy Magee took off in a boat over flooded cropland and they killed every duck in sight, and not necessarily on their own cropland either.
An avid sports fan, Robert loved watching football, basketball, baseball, boxing matches, and golf on television. During a game, Robert was always actively engaged. He would dodge every punch and kick every televised ball all from the seat of his recliner. However, the one sport he knew very little about was soccer. While at his grandson Calvin’s first soccer match, he looked over at Molly and said, “Why doesn’t Calvin just pick up the ball and throw it?” She answered, “Daddy, it’s against the rules to pick up a soccer ball,” to which Robert replied, “Well, I’ll be damned”, which was his typical response whenever he was surprised.
Robert always said that whenever his time came, he wished to “go fast like Jimmy Meek”, his good old buddy. It just so happens that his wish came true and there was no suffering for him. Saturday afternoon he spent his time out in the yard with a guy who came and tilled up the garden. Robert and Edith were looking forward to planting during the upcoming week. He was so proud of the guy that did the tilling that he called Jackie and said that it was a “good hundred dollar” investment. The final four Kentucky basketball game was the last thing that he watched. Although he was rooting for Kentucky, right before it started, he mentioned to Edith that Wisconsin “surely did have some great big ole boys on their team.” After the game, he said, “Well, they did it” and he dozed off peacefully while watching the commentary. And for this, our family is forever grateful.
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