Monday, March 31st, 2014, marked my maternal grandfather, Lester Fuller’s 113th birthday. Lester, affectionately called “Dafull” by his grandchildren, died in 1987 at the age of 86 after a battle with prostrate cancer. I like to think that on the day Dafull was born; March went out like a lamb because he was a quite, courteous, mild manner, man.
Dafull ‘s parents (Hattie Vick Fuller and Willie Barnes) were not married when he was born so he got his last name from his step-father, Arthur Fuller. Dafull did not lack from love because his step-father’s family embraced him as one of their own always calling him “Cuzin Fuller” or “Cuzin Les” and his father’s wife, Cora Darden Barnes, she once told Mom to call her “grandmother.” I also believe that Willie Barnes loved Hattie because he named his twin daughters who were born in 1926: Hattie Lee and Cora Lee.
|Cora and Willie Barnes and Dafull. |
To me, these two pictures show that Dafull and his father look like twins.
Like a lot of families, Dafull’s family was unique; his father and Ms. Cora had 13 children; Hattie and Mr. Arthur had 7 children with 3 dying during infancy.
|In 1987, Dafull's four sisters visited with him. |
This would be the last time they would all be together.
In 1919, Dafull married Classie Virginia Pate (“Mafull”) and in 1925, their only child was born, my mother.
|Dafull and Mafull, on their wedding day in 1919.|
Dafull was an auto mechanic for over 60 years. He retired in the late 1970s and stop “fixing” folks cars and trucks in the early 1980s which was around the time that he was diagnosed with cancer. He loved cars, in fact, whenever my brothers would come home, you would find Dafull sitting in their car and/or looking under the hood. Besides his family and cars, he loved baseball, especially the “Cincinnati Redlegs”.
|Dafull in background at the Ford Dealership in Fremont, NC. |
The two white men are unknown.
Perhaps, one is his employer, Paul C. Blaylock.
Dafull unfortunately didn’t celebrate his birthdays like most people. Mom said that birthday parties were off limits because he didn’t want a celebration but he did want an upside down pineapple cake. Mom didn’t find out why he didn’t want a birthday party until a few years before he died. He told Mom that his mother died on his 15th birthday. Mom said that Dafull told her that Grandma Hattie bleed to death but he didn’t tell Mom the circumstances. Dafull said his Mom had been bleeding and he knew it was real bad so he asked his employer, if he could use his car to take Grandma Hattie to the doctor. His boss said no but that Dafull could use the mule and buggy. Well, Dafull first had to get the mule and buggy which was located about a ½ mile away but when he return home, his mother was dead. I don’t know why Dafull kept his secret for so long but I’m thankful that he told Mom before he left this earth.
A few years ago when I was searching for Hattie’s grandmother’s will; I found a petition filed by Hattie’s husband Arthur. Arthur had filed on behalf of Hattie’s children. The document listed all Hattie’s children including a Wilbur Fuller. Mom and I were puzzled because we had never heard of Wilbur and Mom said that “Daddy didn’t have a brother name Wilbur.” Simultaneously, something special happened; it was the year that Ancestry.com released more death certificates for North Carolina. I found Hattie’s death certificate which confirmed that she died on Dafull’s birthday. I also found Wilbur’s death certificate. He was a baby and he was 4 months old when he died which meant he died 3 months after Hattie. Hattie had died as a result of childbirth and her death was obviously painful for my grandfather because he lost his mom on his birthday and because he never talked about his baby brother that died.
Dafull, I like to think that in heaven you get to celebrate your birthday with your Mom, Mafull, Wilbur and everyone else you love.
Happy Birthday in Heaven Dafull!
You and Mafull were a blessing to your family and I hope that we were a blessing to you. Thank you so much for everything you ever done and sacrificed for us.
Next week, I’ll be wishing another departed love one a happy birthday,
my sister, Mercedes Artis.