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Dad's Birthday Tribute

A GREAT MAN IN MY LIFE

From the first day I was born, there has been a great man in my life who I've always known I could depend on. He taught me how to be a man as I grew up, and I'm sure raising a son with Cerebral Palsy was very challenging at times. He taught me many things that a man needs to know such as about cars and mechanical things. But music has always been a special bond between us. The man I'm talking about is my Dad, Don Mattingly.

I have fond memories of my Dad singing as far back as I can remember. In my opinion, he can imitate Jim Reeves and Johnny Cash to a T! He was the first to get me interested in guitars, and I have a picture of me at age 3 or 4 with Dad's guitar strapped in my lap. I appreciate him trying to teach me how to play the guitar when I was just a youngster because playing guitars has got me through a lot of growing pains in my life. It has been an honor for me to play music on stage with my Dad!

I'm also grateful to my Dad for choosing a wonderful woman to be his wife, Ruth Mattingly, because she's a super Mom to me. Through the years, the three of us have been through many good times, bad times, laughter, and tears. My parents will never know how much I appreciate all their support and the sacrifices that they have made for me, and I'm very thankful to have them as my Mom and Dad!

Dad, on your birthday, I want to let you know how much I admire you as a father. Although I am a man now, I appreciate all that you still do for me whenever I need assistance. I'm VERY proud to have you as my father and role model!

Happy Birthday, Dad!

From your son:

Ross Mattingly

March 25, 2006

FROM A CHILD TO A DAD
WHAT IT WAS LIKE GROWING UP IN THE HILLS OF KENTUCKY

Back in the late 30's just after the Great Depression began to ease off, a son was born to a preacher and his loyal wife in the hills of a mountain side called Dorton located in Pike County, Kentucky. They named him "Donald Ross Mattingly, Sr."

Don, as they would later call him short for Donald, grew up on a small size farm where his parents taught him how to grow their own food and handle farm animals such as chickens, cows, mules & horses. Through the years, Don would pick corn off the stalks, pick the beans, and gather up the eggs the hens would lay for their Mother to use for their daily meals and going to school each day. That made each day a very busy day, and the bitter cold winters didn't help much either for a youngster back in those days.

Don had an older brother named Joe and a younger brother named Greg making up three of the nine children his Mom and Dad brought into the world together. They would all tend to the garden they had planted in their yard as a team. They had to tend to the animals before going to school each weekday and again when they got back home.

The radio hadn't quite been perfected yet and for a while, they didn't have one during the earlier parts of their childhoods, but once they got one, they'd all gather round the radio and listen to various things such as country music, gospel or talk shows for entertainment.

Then one day, Don decided to move away from home and stay with a sister in Virginia named Irene. He got a job and began life on his own working for Pepsi Cola. Then one day, a man from another beverage company walked into the plant searching for machinery to buy for his own beverage plant that would make products on behalf of the Canada Dry Company making such products as R.C. Cola, Ginger Ale, and many other soft drinks. He offered Don a managing position for his company located in Atlanta, Georgia, which he accepted. Soon after that decision was made, he packed up his belongings and along with his wife, Ruth, and son, Ross (named after Don), they loaded up a moving truck and away they went to start life in the Southeast.

Don's son, Ross, was born with Cerebral Palsy and was quite a challenge for Don & Ruth I'm sure. In 1971, they finally got to move into their first house in a nice neighborhood south of where Don's new job was located at in a town called Jonesboro in Clayton County, Georgia.

Although little Ross had already gone through two leg operations (one on his ankle and one on his hip & upper leg) they enrolled the tiny fella into a school near-by. Not long after their arrival in Georgia, Ross began to experience very incredible pains in his hip and upper leg and had to undergo emergency surgery because the steel pin and hip plate had somehow been rejected from the surgery done in Virginia and began to eat away the bone and muscles. This would make Ross's 3rd leg operation, and the 2nd one in that same exact area to replace the upper portion of his femur bone and most of the socket where the leg meets the hip socket at.

Nine hours later, the doctors moved Ross into the recovery room where Don & Ruth discovered he had been placed into a full body cast so he couldn't move either of his legs or feet nor was able to bend at the waist. There, the young lad would endure that body cast for 4 long months and being a 14-year-old teen at the time didn't help much either.

Day after day, Ross's parents would endure the groans and moans of his heeling process and would also render his every need since he couldn't move or leave the bed during those painful 4 months. Even after that was all said and done, the growing pains still kept coming. It took Ross nearly a full year to learn how to walk all over again, and the pains are still present to this very day.

But this true story isn't about Ross, it's about a Father named Don Mattingly who made sure and certain that the bills got paid and food was available for himself, his loving wife, Ruth, and of course for Ross too! It takes a special kind of attitude to raise a child born with a handicap, and Don certainly has that and much more. Through it all, Don took it all in and did the best a Father could do and beyond the call of duty as well.

Don has been through a lot growing up on a farm, but nothing could have prepared him to raise a child with Cerebral Palsy. When one family member struggles, they ALL struggle and through it all, we're still alive and well because of a loving & caring Father like my Dad!!!

I'm little Ross and I'm PROUD to have been Blessed with such a Father as Don Mattingly!!!

THANKS, DAD!!!