Always remembering Daddy

Published 11:16 am Tuesday, June 17, 2014

I was in the second grade when a teacher interrupted the class to lead a classmate out in the hall. At recess that day, I learned that her daddy died in a coal mining accident. It shocked and frightened me. My daddy did not work in the mines, but for days after that, I lived in fear that something would happen to him.

Then, as years went by, I assumed he would be around as long as his daddy, who passed away in his 90s, or his granddaddy, who lived past 100. If heredity counted, he would hit one of those milestones. He did not. It was hard for me to face when we received the grim news that he had a terminal illness in his early 70s. He has been gone many years. God called him home at 72, but a part of him will always live in my heart.

It still brings smiles to my face when I remember how he comforted me when I skinned my knee, bumped my head, or hurt myself some other way. Amidst the hugs he gave me, he always reminded me, “It will feel so good when it quits hurting.” That helped drive away the tears and bring on the giggles.

I was nervous when I faced attending a large city high school after spending my previous schooling in a rural setting. Daddy assured me I could cope. Kissing me on the cheek, he said, “Remember you are as good as the best and better than the rest.”

My mother and I always had a hard time buying gifts for Daddy. Clothes did not interest him. He cared nothing for jewelry. He loved tools, but if he needed one, he bought it. For three consecutive years, we wrapped up the same billfold and gave it to him for Father’s Day. He thanked us graciously, then tossed it in a drawer and kept on using his same battered, beat-up, favorite old billfold.

Daddy was a gentle man. Several months before he died, he led me into his workshop and pointed to a bird’s nest in the ceiling. A wren built the nest and raised her babies there. He said that she flew over his head with twigs for the nest and food for her young while he whistled and worked. She was apparently comfortable in his presence. I guess she sensed that he would not bother her and her little family.

He did not even like to kill an annoying insect. One day when I was visiting my parents, I joined him on their screened front porch. As we sat chatting, a fly buzzed and buzzed around us. It finally lit close to the door. “Open that door and shoo that fly out,” he said. “Hurry, or your mother will be here in a minute and swat it.”

Father’s Days come and go, but I do not need them to remind me of Daddy. His memory is always with me.