Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Guest Blog with Shannon Taylor Vannatter Day Two

White Doves dedication: To Daddy, my number one fan. I’ll never forget our trip to Dallas when you took me to claim my first important unpublished writing award, babysat my five year-old in the pool all day, and told everyone you met that your daughter was a writer.

(Story behind the dedication)

In 2007, I received word that I’d finaled in the Touched By Love writing contest and the winners would be announced at the Faith, Hope, & Love Conference in Dallas. I’d already paid and planned to attend American Christian Fiction Writers Conference, also in Dallas that year. My husband didn’t have any extra time off to go and we didn’t want to spend the extra money.

When my parents learned about the contest, they decided to take me there and make a mini-vacation out of our trip, and fund the entire thing. In awe, I made the arrangements. The conference hotel was already full, but I found another with available rooms. Very expensive rooms, even with my special writers’ rate. Mama and Daddy approved, despite the cost. We talked about trips to the zoo and visiting Charlie Pride’s house, Daddy’s favorite singer.
Two weeks before our trip, Mama’s coworker had to take a medical leave. Which meant, Mama couldn’t go. Without her, and saddled with entertaining my active five year-old, I knew Daddy wouldn’t have as much fun.

I offered him an out. We didn’t have to go. It was early enough I could get the registration fee back and cancel the hotel. But, Daddy wouldn’t hear of it.

The day before the conference, Daddy, my son, and I set out for Dallas. Daddy drove most of the way. With one weakened and one surgically improved knee, we stopped often, so he could stretch. He refused to let me pay for gas, food, or even snacks.

Seven hours later, we arrived. The hotel was huge. Unwilling to make another trek, we piled high with luggage. Even my son was loaded down. We walked miles through the spiral parking deck, then crossed the busy highway to get to the entrance.

At the service desk, I learned our room was way on the other end. After checking in, I just knew Daddy’s knee would play out, but he trudged on, burdened with the majority of the suitcases.
Anxious bellboys lined the plush carpet in the long corridor. “Do you need help?”

“No.” I didn’t want Daddy spending any more money. He’d already paid for everything else.
We finally made it to the room and unloaded. All we wanted to do was stay put, but Daddy thought we should find the other hotel before morning.

My poor son lagged behind. “When do we get to swim?”

We took the elevator back down and asked for directions.

“A train leaves every thirty minutes.” The clerk handed me a confusing map. “It will take you right to that hotel.”

We went outside, in search of the train, only to find at least a dozen. The map didn’t make sense to either one of us. With helpful advice from the locals, we found the right train and managed to buy a ticket. Daddy’s bad knee continued to hold up.

“When can we swim?” My son asked, at least a dozen more times, on the way back to our room. Looking at our train tickets, I noticed it said they expired at midnight. In the morning, we would repeat the entire process.

Getting late by now, my son swim in the tub, then took a shower. When I came out of the bathroom, Daddy was splayed on the other bed, still in his traveling clothes, already snoring.
The next morning, he wouldn’t hear of me walking the streets of Dallas, or riding a train alone. He and my son got up early with me, bought more tickets, rode the train, made sure I wound up at the right hotel, then headed back to our hotel and the pool.

All day, I bragged to other attendees about my dad bringing me and entertaining my son. Numerous awwws resulted.

After the conference, I called Daddy. He and my son met me at the train station.

“I won second place.” My voice quivered with excitement.

“Second place. That’s great.” Daddy’s hair stood on end, waving in the wind. He and my son looked like prunes.

“Did y’all stay in the pool all day?”

“Most of it.” Daddy remained unperturbed.

All the way home, each time we stopped to get gas or stretch, he bragged on me. “This is my daughter. She’s a writer. She won second place in a big contest.”

“And this is my Daddy,” I said. “He drove me from Arkansas, so I could get my award.”

Back in the car, we discussed where to stop for supper. During the whole trip, he’d pointed out every IHOP he saw, then pulled in at the cheaper fast food places.

“Let’s go to IHOP and I’ll buy.”

We did, but he grabbed the ticket.

I mentioned that I’d come prepared to win third and be happy with that. Second was even better.

“So, you knew you’d won something when you came?”

“Remember, I told you, they called and said I finaled, but I didn’t learn what place until today.”
“That was this conference?”

It was then I realized he had my conferences mixed up. He drove me all the way to Dallas and funded the entire trip, without realizing I’d won a thing, so I could be there just in case.

What’s the sweetest thing a family member or friend ever did for you?


What is your favorite wild animal?


  1. What a beautiful story, Shannon. You always speak so highly of your parents & now I know why. You're very blessed to have such a giving father.

  2. Hi Brenda,

    I thank God for my parents. They're the best.

  3. Sounds like you were truly blessed with loving parents. My parents have also always been there to catch me when I fall and hold me up til I'm strong enough to go on my own again. They are still going strong with love and support at 90 and 86 years!

  4. Oh, Shannon, that's such a sweet story. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

  5. Kim,

    How fortunate we are. I feel for all the poor souls in the world who can't depend on their parents. And sometimes wonder why I've been so blessed.


    I've been waiting three years for a chance to share this story. Daddy doesn't know about it yet. I wasn't sure what day it would be on and he slipped off to work before I learned today was the day. He'll have a nice surprise when he comes home for lunch.

  6. What a wonderful dad. You truly are a blessed woman! He is obviously SO proud of you. I'm glad you found your kitty or she found you. And I hope this blog blesses your dad's socks off.

  7. Daddy is truly my biggest fan. He's doing a great job of word of mouth for my books. He'll love the blog! I appreciate Heartsong, Jeri, and Erica for giving me a venue to share it.

  8. Just learned Daddy is in the hay. He's 70 and still works as a ranch foreman. Mama and I have tried to get him to retire, but he loves his job. He's cutting, raking, and baling hay today, so who knows when he'll see the blog.

    In case anyone wonders, that is me and him dancing when I was 2 or 3. I was towhead until my teens, when it turned mousy, then after I had my son, my hair got even darker.

    And my kitty didn't lose her cattitude. Back in regular mode. Barely leaves my office, lays in my lap while I write. Loves to be petted, but don't try to cuddle her.

  9. My mother was always my strongest supporter. Her guidance in my life was a priceless treasure. She let me know that nothing was more important than loving and serving God. I can't think of a better gift than that. Great story, Shannon. Thanks so much for sharing! Oh, and I LOVE deer.

  10. Hi Aaron,
    I've loved sharing my awesome daddy with the world.

    I love deer too. And it was so cute. Tiny, like a dog with long legs.

  11. Finally, Daddy got still long enough to read the blog, then called me and said he didn't need any thanks. He'd do it again if I needed him to.

  12. Oh, Shannon! I LOVE that you kept us updated on what your dad thought of the post. He sounds like such a blessing.

  13. He is a blessing and doesn't even realize it. I got a facebook message yesterday from a lady he went to high school with. She said she read the blog and she wasn't surprised because that's just how he is.

  14. Rosemary TravisOctober 14, 2010

    That was a beautiful story and thank you for sharing it with your fans Shannon. I'm afraid i wasn't blessed with a loving family as alot of people were. They never showed us affection, but i never forgot that i was able to tell my mom that i loved her 3 days before both parents were murderd in July 27,1995. They layed in there home dead for three days in the 100% heat before my brother and I went in and found them. The saddest thing about it these days that i think of is that they weren't christains.

  15. Oh Rosemary,

    What a tragic story. I'm so sorry. Some families just don't know how to show affection. But you can hold on to the fact that you told her you loved her. And I'm glad you found Jesus. He can get us through anything.

  16. Rosemary TravisOctober 14, 2010

    Thank you. I believe that also.

  17. I loved reading your story! Your dad sounds like an absolute sweetheart! You are beyond blessed to have such an amazing dad. My dad passed away 10 years ago. I would love to say we had a close relationship, but sadly that is not the case. Hug your dad a little closer tonight, just because.