Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Father's Love

One of the first memories I have of my dad, I was around two (yes, that early) and he was throwing me up into the air and dropped me on the ground. I forgave him. And no, I don't have any permanent damage.

My dad was always doing something wild and crazy, that was his character...bubbly, charming and rowdy. I don't think he met many people who didn't find him appealing, because when you look like a movie star and have a rock star personality to boot, you have lots of friends. I'm sure there were some uptight folks he left clenching their teeth.

From the time I was a wee one to about eight, I believed that my dad was Superman, literally. He looked a lot like the man I saw on all of the comic books...coal-black hair, olive skin, bright smile and brawny shoulders. The only difference that I could tell, my dad had a hairy chest. I would sit on his lap and ask, "Daddy, how do you get changed from your suit to clothes so fast?" He'd laugh and say, "I'm just that good."

It wasn't until I was a teenager when I'd disappointed my dad. I'd started getting into trouble (not bad trouble, just teenage mischief) and I'd make him upset. I'd tell him, "Dad, what do you expect, it runs in the blood." He'd only frown. I was a smart-ass, I guess. I know now that he'd wanted the best for me, but he wasn't the greatest at communication. In fact, he was pretty tough and when he was bothered he'd distance himself.

Dad had never been much of a spanker, at least not on me. My brother and sister got the wrath a few times, but I think when one sibling got a spanking, everyone felt the tremor. He'd grown up with a father who was iron-fisted (from what I've heard) and discipline was firm. I think we can all remember our first 'spanking.' Mine was a harsh one and it caused a wall to build up between my father and I. I'll be the first to say, I inherited his stubborn character and I was mad at him...for years. I barely spoke to him. I later found out that he'd gone to my mom after he'd picked me up from school one evening and said, "I don't think she likes me. She wouldn't even tell me that she'd won an award at school." Even now it brings a tear to my eye...

Years pass and we grow up. I started appreciating my dad again. He'd worry about me, I know, but he never said much. During my pregnancy with my second child, I became very ill. I had to be transported to another hospital more equipped with sick mothers and premature deliveries. My dad was there the entire time. In fact, he followed the ambulance, driving in excessive speed, an hour away. He arrived before anyone and as he stood over top my bed I saw worry, like I'd never seen before, in his pale blue eyes. He told me, "It'll be okay Rhonda Lou (that was his nickname for me)." But I knew he was only saying that for my benefit, because in that moment, I could see the fear a parent has of losing their child.

Like I said, my dad wasn't the best communicator. So when he told me a few years back, "I don't say it much, but I'm proud of you and your writing. You keep writing no matter what anyone else says," I knew that he was moved, and so was I. I never got to see my dad as much as I'd like to, but I made sure that I spoke to him every chance I got. The older he got, the more he liked to talk. In fact, he'd talk my ear off and I'd listen.

Dad's health started failing him and he knew his time was near. He became a different man, so to speak.  He seemed to relax, in a way hard to his walls vanished and he held a love for life and family. Dad and I would talk about dying and what he wanted. He didn't seem afraid of dying, only curious.

I remember the last few moments I had with my dad. I planted lots of kisses on his forehead, held his hand and said, "I love, love, love you Daddy." He looked up at me with an age-old gaze and said, "I love you too, baby." And that was the last time I saw my daddy...

I know you have wings, Dad. They are helping you fly to all of the places you loved to visit, and some you didn't get a chance to see. I wish you a Happy Father's Day from my place here to your place high in the sky. And I hope you understand now, that you'll forever hold a place inside my heart. *KISSES*

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