This morning as the sun tried to make its way through the snowy sky and the birds began their call for Spring, my father called my sister. He had been gone from our home for months. I’m not sure why- that part was a memory from another dream- but he called to tell her he was coming home. I looked through the doorway of whatever room I was in, and there he stood, larger than life, a different, beefier, taller version of the man I love, but somehow my dad. I pulled the blankets closer to my chin and wallowed in the feeling that he was there. I wanted to wrap my father’s arms around me as I did the blanket, savor his strength and love. It has been over ten years since his death, one that still haunts me, and I have missed him every day.
My father was a quiet man. We didn’t talk much- I don’t think he knew how to talk to daughters, and having two wasn’t enough for him to learn. He loved us; he would do anything for us, but he left the rest to my mother- until, of course, our incessant fighting drove her crazy and she sent us to our rooms to ” wait until your father gets home.” When he did, he would ask what happened and that was the end of that. I don’t remember any punishment he ever enacted. We waited. We explained. He smiled and then it was time for dinner.
I learned more about my father from my mother- her stories she had heard somewhere or made up. But she made him out to be our “King” in a sense. We washed out faces for our daddy, put on clean clothes because daddy would be home soon, cooked fried chicken early in the day because daddy only liked it cold.
Now that both my mother and father have passed on, it is my husband who can tell me about my dad. My father loved my husband. I think he was the son my father never had and they formed an unlikely Mutt and Jeff friendship- my father short and impetuous, my husband tall and meticulous. It was my father who taught my husband to do woodworking, to build things, and to smoke cigars. My favorite image is the two of them standing side by side, cigar in hand, a big smile for the camera.
But my father also talked non stop with my husband- things he never told me, he gladly related to my mate, and he swore. I never knew. The worst I ever heard my father say was ” for crying out loud” and for that my mother admonished him, “Jim, not in front of the children.”
My father was not perfect as no one is, but he loved me no matter what and he was always there, no matter what, and I miss him.