Thursday, March 29, 2007

Sentimental journey

It's early Thursday morning and I'm not a morning person. I haven't even had coffee yet. The kids are in the kitchen eating breakfast. My dog is in the hallway thinking whatever it is dogs think when they lay there looking at you.

Yesterday was my mom and dad's anniversary. Maybe their 39th, I'm not sure. I remember looking at their pictures in a photo album when I was growing up. He was handsome and cocky, she was beautiful and in love. They made a very striking couple.

I've been thinking about my dad a lot lately. He died four years ago, the day before Valentine's day. I was a huge daddy's girl when I was very young. I would run to him when he got home and jump in his lap when he sat down to visit with mom. He had a deep, rumbly voice and I loved laying my head on his chest while he was talking so the vibration of it could roll through my head.

As I got older, I still met my dad at the door with a hug. He was a machinist and always smelled like hard work and beer. I learned to figure out right away what level of drunk he was when he got home. If it wasn't too bad he'd just had a beer or two and would stay in a pretty good mood. If his eyes were really red and he and mom were fighting, he'd been hitting hard liquor. That was never good. And if he started off making snide remarks and being sarcastic and mean, he was three sheets to the wind and would pass out as soon as he sat down in front of the TV.

I don't think he ever thought he would end up being a machinist, but I'm not sure. We never talked about it. He was intelligent and articulate. The star quarterback in high school from a small town in Texas. He'd been the golden boy when he was younger. Went to college on a football scholarship and dropped out when he blew out his knee. He studied theology and was going to be a Baptist minister until he became disillusioned with the church and fell away altogether.

Drinking and smoking eventually destroyed his health, though he hid it pretty well right up to the end. We came to terms with each other before he died. I quit blaming him for my mistakes and he accepted me as I was. We'd disappointed each other a lot over the years, but in the end we realized we each were imperfect, flawed human beings, and that's okay.

The day before he collapsed we had a barbecue at my parent's house. It was wonderful. My sister and her family and all of the grandkids were there. We played dominoes and told jokes and laughed. And my dad told me he was proud of me for the first time in my life. We never spoke again.

We had him cremated, like he wanted. Actually he wanted us to bury him in the backyard, but we figured it would poison the tomatoes (just kidding, Daddy.) He's in a Pier 1 box on a shelf at my mom's house. He would have thought that was funny. And so do I.


Blogger Cat said...

Sounds like he waited so he could tell you what you would love to hear from him. That he was proud of you. And I'm sure he's looking down now and looking at all your wonderful accomplishments and saying, that's my girl! There is nobody like a girl's daddy and I'm so very sorry for your pain. I wish there were words to take away the hurt, but you as a writer I'm sure already know that there aren't. All you can do is try and focus on all the fun and laughter you were able to share with him and remember those times. And how truly blessed you were for having him in your life.

8:31 AM  
Blogger elysabeth said...


Sometimes we need that sentimental journey to pull us back to the here and now and let us see how blessed we are indeed. You had good times and bad times as in all relationships, and no one can take those memories from you. They are yours. Who knows, maybe something in there might make a story for you to write - you never know - keep on trucking - E :)

2:14 PM  
Blogger E=ME2 said...

It is so good you still have those memories of your dad. I so get you, I realize your memories are not of sadness, but if the joy of it all.

Love you and thank you so much for tonight. I laughed once again..

only 2 more days left in March. TG

12:25 AM  
Blogger Tink said...

I don't really talk about my daddy that much anymore. Like you, I was a huge Daddy's Girl. My sister, Alicia, has always hated me for it. In his eyes I could never do wrong. It is so good that you got the chance to get things straight with him. There is nothing better than having that father-daughter bond. My father, Richard, is now that with me. Took many years of anger and pain to realize that he was really young and tried his hardest. He knew that Bobby would take care of me. I love you hunny and thank you for sharing that with us!!

11:07 AM  

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