About six years ago, at 6 in the morning on the 29th of June, an hour after mama passing, he was the first person I called to let him know I was on my way, the first person I ran to. I drove 20 minutes away to Helena Crossing to a pink house that could be seen from miles away, Home away from Home. No sooner than I’d walked in, we walked outside and sat on the porch. No words had to be spoken, because he already knew. We simply sat side by side, holding hands, and that was all the comfort I needed. Just being next to my Daddy.
Who knew the following year, same month, on the 24th, that I’d be saying good-bye to him as well. Without a doubt, I missed my mom, but it was easy to bear since Daddy was still there, since, I still had a home to go to. When he was no longer there, I remember asking God “Now, what do I do?”
I didn’t realize how much of a void there’d be when he was gone. The time that had been spent driving home every other weekend to take care of his affairs was no longer there. It was a time that I’d look forward too.
Moments with my Dad were unique, but special. You see, unlike some fathers, he didn’t know our real names (just nicknames), let alone how to spell them or even our birthdays. He had an elementary education, so he didn’t really know how to read or write, but he stayed current on his news every night at 10 pm. But strangely enough, that NEVER mattered. What mattered most to us was his time.
My earliest memories are three little girls in the front seat of a pickup truck riding what seemed to be 15 mph from West Helena to Helena watching everything pass by in slow motion. Almost every weekend, you’d find us running around the house or outside with frequent trips to the store on the hill. And on those mornings, we’d wake up to rice, sausage and biscuits sitting on the stove.
What I really want to share and hope this will bless someone who still has time. My time with my dad was special because there were times it took me out of my comfort zone only to realize that I didn’t need to be fearful of anything.
1. Saying “I love you” to mama was a daily thing: mornings, nights, after every conversation, but it wasn’t the same with Daddy. I would always have the urge to say it, but feared he’d never say it back. I eventually overcame my fears and said it a few times without any expectation and one of those times, he said it back!
2. At one point, it bothered me that I didn’t know where he stood with God (Ironically, he never went, but he made sure we got to church and he made sure his mom got to church) and very, very hesitantly, I asked and we talked about it and on that same day, he simply stated, “You don’t have to be scared to ask me anything.”
3. A few things I miss the most: (1) driving to his house and he’s sitting in his truck on the corner, and not hesitating to drive to the house and we walk in together, (2) sitting on the couch watching Westerns with his hand on my knee, and (3) eventually what became an every other weekend drive to go to the bank, pay a few bills and go by Wendy’s for a frosty or Burger Shack for a “chuck” sandwich, (4) I miss being able to call and hear his smile through the phone.
Not all dad’s are emotional/affectionate; they have their own ways of showing that they care. It may not be the same as you see on TV or what you see with others or even what social media says “a dad is…” and that’s okay. Enjoy what you do have and appreciate every minute of it. If you focus only on the big things, you will surely miss the small things that really matter the most.
It didn’t matter if daddy didn’t come to any graduations, all that mattered was hearing the smile in his voice when we shared our achievements. He was proud!
And it doesn’t matter how many other siblings there are, he has room for you too. Create your own memories to hold on to.
If he’s never been in your life, but expresses a genuine desire to do so, let him. But here’s one thing I learned, sometimes You may have to take a few first steps. Dads have feelings too. They fear rejection just as much as you. And no matter how strong he seems, he still has feelings. So don’t miss out on what could be because of things that weren’t like you thought they should’ve been. Because truth be told, things are hardly ever as they seem.
Mom’s: PLEASE, no matter what your relationship is, don’t ever speak ill of him in front of your kids, nor prevent them from seeing him if he expresses a genuine desire to be with them…
One thing I admired about both my parents is that they never spoke ill of each other, but did ask how the other one was doing. When mom was sick in the hospital and home, dad came by to visit.
To all the dad’s and/or father figures, THANK YOU! You’re appreciated and loved!
It’s never too late. Always do what is in your power to do, regardless of what the next person says/does. ONE day might be the RIGHT day! (kids don’t stay kids forever, they become adults and make their own decisions)
And Please, no matter how many kids you have, introduce them to each other, encourage their relationships with each other.
Love/Blessings to All!
And Prayers of comfort to those who no longer have the pleasure of being in the presence of Dad!