Father’s Day…nooooo, not another one. That is my honest feeling today and has been for a while. I lost my daddy years ago and it still hurts. Still. The pain that is nothing but raw and ugly and makes you cry ugly and raw tears. But, you grow up and carry on. Or you act your way through the days that hurt too bad to truly face being yourself. You become someone else for a day or two. I finally realized it was because I had the best daddy and for him to be gone is too painful to understand, even at 52.
Daddy was a self made man. He was born and raised in Coffeeville, AL. I can smell the clay on the road to my great grandmother’s house. I can smell the clear river water and the garden. And I can remember every single story he told me about his childhood. Not all were good. And so the day he graduated from high school, he left on a bus to Mobile, AL…THE BIG CITY!!
He got a job driving a city bus and went to school at night. He applied at American National Bank and was hired. He met my momma at a Woolsworth where she worked. They were married at the courthouse and went to Biloxi for the day for a honeymoon. Sounds pretty simple…even boring! But, when HE told the story, his blue eyes would twinkle with every detail about those days of dating momma and what she wore and her first wedding ring. Their first apartment that they shared with his mother. And most of all…how happy he was.
He would tell the best stories. I knew they didn’t have air conditioning for a very long time (I don’t understand how they survived!) but he said that the air was sweeter then. The hotter the day, the cooler the afternoon. He loved the thunderstorms because the breeze would cool us off. He had a way of looking at the world as a miracle in the most simple ways. I guess I take after him in some ways. He taught me to laugh even when things got too serious…ESPECIALLY then! Now I know why. Being an adult is hard. But, he never let his girls see that get him down…ever.
He worked his way up the ladder at the bank. I think that bank changed names five times, but he stuck with it. He provided more than I will ever be able to my kids. We had a bay house. I had a car at 16. We had a boat. Those little things then now make me love him even more. How did he do it?? And then the MOST wonderful thing he did every single day…he loved my momma. He loved her when she wasn’t so lovable. He loved us when she had enough of us. He loved his wife. And he loved her with every single cell in his body and soul…EVERY breath he took started and ended with her name.
I often think back to those Father’s Day celebrations that was a mad rush to get to the bay. The family gathering was usually full of kids, food, boats and more food! We always had a great time. He LOVED it! Sam LOVED a bunch of kids around and hearing them laugh! But, we always knew I was his favorite. I was adopted so I was his CHOSEN one. See, that is how wonderful both my parents were. Being a little different was always celebrated. Now I understand why they did this for all three of us! They both had nothing growing up but hopes and dreams and that is all they needed.
I remember when I realized that I was going to lose Daddy. He had Parkinson’s and was getting weaker by the week. It was happening too fast! I would sit and talk to him until he fell asleep. He was tired. His eyes only twinkled when one of us came in the door. Momma walked back and forth in worry. I would hide in the bathroom and cry. ANYTHING but watch him sleep. That was too close to losing him. I hated it.
The last Father’s Day is a blur for me. I know I got Daddy new pajamas and a robe. He laughed! He was not a pajama dad..and a dang robe???? I told him I had it monogrammed so he looked rich when he had to go to the hospital. Which was way too much then. So, he laughed. But, then he said to me “I am rich! I have the most beautiful family in the world!”. And there was not one thing I could say to that. I went to the bathroom and cried.
So, while this day every year brings some tears to my eyes, it also brings back some wonderful memories. And those stories that need to be put on paper for my kids to remember. And those eyes…no picture can capture that twinkle. I always smile when I think about how we all came together because of those eyes that Momma fell in love with. And together they sure did give us a wonderful life! But, I know I was his favorite. Just don’t tell the other two. And that is when Daddy would wink and tell me to hurry and get my fishing pole! Hurry! Memories to be made!
(image: Vermillion Bay Lodge)