Father’s Day has always been a difficult day for me. And for good reason.
Because my father died when I was only 8 years old. I don’t have a lot of memories of him. I really can’t remember celebrating Fathers Day with him, or Christmas, or my birthday. I was just too young, unfortunately. to have very many memories of him.
What I do remember are bits and pieces. And why these particular memories stick with me I have no idea…except for the last one.
Like the time I heard him calling to my mom from our little chicken house in the back yard, “Rachel (my mom’s name), bring me my gun and bring it now! Don’t ask why!” I had no idea what was going on, even when I heard a loud shot. I found out later he’d gone out to the feed area to get the chicken feed for our little flock and a copperhead snake had lunged at him! Fortunately it missed him. And he took care of the snake so it wouldn’t ever be a threat to me or my mom.
I remember going out on the river in our hometown with him, just my dad and me, and going through a bunch of water lilies. They were so pretty. My mom didn’t go with us because she didn’t like going on boats. It was our time…my daddy and me. I had no idea at the time, and neither did he, that there weren’t going to be any more times like that.
I remember watching him in our garage when he was actually building his own boat. I wanted to help, but I was too little. But I watched him as often as I could, because I was fascinated with his woodworking.
My dad was a talented carpenter who made some beautiful pieces of furniture for my mom, and a very special canopy doll bed that he had just finished and gave me for the last Christmas he was with us. I still have it, and soon I’ll be handling it down to our granddaughters; I’ve waited til they’re old enough to take care of it.
I also remember the last time I saw him. He’d been admitted to John’s Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore because of excruciating headaches, and they were running tests on him to see what was wrong. My uncle drove my mom and me up to see him, and they doctors let him come down to the lobby to see us and visit. I remember him standing there in his yellow robe, and him telling me they were trying to make him better so he could get back home. I still remember talking to him and hugging him goodbye.
Two days later my mom got a call in the middle of the night that they were going to do surgery on him, and she needed to be there. My uncle took her up there while my aunt took care of me.
The next thing I remember was seeing my mom walking up to the house with my uncle holding on to her. She was crying. And I’ll never forget her words to me: ”Your dad isn’t coming home anymore.”
I missed out on so many wonderful times we could’ve had, but so did my dad. He missed birthdays, Christmases, dance recitals, piano recitals. He missed teaching me to drive, my high school and college graduations. He missed out on walking me down the aisle, and probably would have kept me from making the first two wedding mistakes. He missed meeting his granddaughter Ashley, who he would have adored as much as my mother did.
My mother missed out on so much as well, being left to raise me by herself, while working full time and even going back to college without the help of her husband. But she did it on her own, and I am still so very proud of her for it.
She missed so many years of marriage with the only man she’d ever loved. And I missed out on having two parents who adored me. And in that time, some 60+ years ago, that was very unusual.
My uncle stepped in and acted as a surrogate father, and I loved him dearly, but he couldn’t totally take the place of my own daddy.
So on this Father’s Day, I want to remind all of you to cherish your dad, and your granddad, if you’re lucky enough to have him as well. Love them, celebrate them, and be thankful for them. Life is short, and tomorrow is not promised
I know I will see my dad again one day, and I’ll share those moments with him that we missed, although my mom has most likely already filled him in.
Daddy, I love you, and I’ll miss you forever…until we meet again.
Happy Father’s Day!