The disturbing events of the past couple of weeks have brought back a flood of recollections of my marriage to Barbara in Amarillo, Texas, in the early 60s when I was still in the Air Force. In the following years we made frequent visits to her parents’ farm near the small town of Woodbine, about 15 or 20 miles south of the Red River.
Sylvanius “Bud” Neal, my father-in-law, was a tall, rugged, muscular farmer and oil field roughneck. Of all the people in Barbara’s family, he was about the only one who genuinely liked me. The rest jokingly called me a damned Yankee, but the animus beneath their smiles was unmistakable.
In Fort Worth, a day or two before I left Barbara to go to New York, he drove up in his pickup truck. I thought he’d come to order me to stay with his daughter. But instead he shook my hand and said, “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.”
Update: I suddenly notice in these and other images of my late ex-father-in-law that the little and ring fingers on his right hand are curled. Precisely like mine. And like my own father’s. Which strongly suggests he had
Peyronie’s disease, a rather peculiar but benign affliction.