‘Sweet dad’ shines light, positivity at Cranberry House

'My dad is my hero'

Phil Tipton, left, stands outside Cranberry House with his daughter, Kristi Carpenter, prior to Covid-19 visitor restrictions.

“Maya Angelou once said, ‘I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people,’” said Kristi Carpenter, whose father, Phil Tipton is a resident at Cranberry House in Newland, N.C. “And, to me, a hero is also someone how is selfless and is a genuinely good person. My dad is my hero for these reasons and many more.”

Tipton, a native of Bakersville, N.C., was the oldest of six children. He served in the Korean War as a Marine, and moved from his Western North Carolina hometown to Baltimore after his time in the service. There, he met his wife and became a father to two daughters.

“Dad was a hard worker, often working double shifts and going without things for himself, so my mother, sister and I could have nice things,” Carpenter said. “He was never the cool dad – he was the sweet dad. He was the one who would brush my hair softly, spoke with a gentle voice, and would come to my room on the mornings he had off singing a ‘good morning’ song.”

Phil Tipton shares his smile outside of Cranberry House.

 Carpenter remembers having her friends over and them always being welcomed by her father. She has memories of playing in his tool shed and of her father’s patience and kindness no matter what her, her sister or their friends were getting into.

Tipton worked in a hot, dangerous steel mill in Baltimore. The long hours and worsening conditions in the city prompted the family to move back to Tipton’s hometown of Bakersville.

“It was after we moved and he could slow down a bit, plus the fact I was getting older, that I began to admire my father even more,” Carpenter said. “Dad was always giving back to the community where his roots were – whether it was helping someone build a barn, helping or donating in the church, assisting an elderly person, visiting people in the hospital or singing at Senior Citizen centers.”

Carpenter said her father was always there for her, from moving her into college every year to keeping her car running properly, and teaching her responsibilities and how to be a good, honest person.

“I remember looking up at him and mom when I was graduating college with tears running down my face,” Carpenter said. “Tears of joy and pride. They were good people and I loved them. I could tell they were proud of me, but I in turn was equally proud of them.”

Phil Tipton shows off an award he earned at Cranberry House.

The family experienced a tragedy when Carpenter’s mother was diagnosed with cancer, and later  her sister also lost a battle with cancer.

“My dad loved my mom with all of his heart and he always took good care of her,” Carpenter said. “He would bring her coffee every morning, rub her feet, and always make her feel beautiful. He loved my mom, and he had two daughters so he has always been protective of the ladies in his life.”

Tipton is now a memory care resident at Cranberry House as he battles his own disease – dementia.

“I feel it is now my turn to take care of him as well as he took care of me and our family,” Carpenter said. “I was blessed to find the Cranberry House to help take care of my father. I believe he has brought as much light to the staff there as he has to me and everyone he has ever met. Many old men can be grumpy, but not my dad. Every time I call or visit, his positivity and gentle ways cause me to love him even more.”

Carpenter and the Cranberry House team will be working together to celebrate Tipton for Father’s Day, getting creative with virtual visitation and window visits to maintain safety protocols amidst Covid-19.

“I don’t know what the next year holds for my dad, but I feel blessed to have a father as good as mine,” Carpenter said. “My hero – a selfless, genuinely good person, who makes the world a better place.”

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