She doesn’t need Father’s Day reminder

Published 12:10 am Saturday, June 16, 2018

I just couldn’t wait to see my parents when my family returned home from a three-year stay with my husband in Germany. Since Daddy couldn’t leave work that day, my mother came alone to meet us at the terminal station. We had a joyful reunion with her.

For as long as I could remember, my Daddy was a whistler. He whistled while he worked. He whistled when he walked. He whistled when he rested in his recliner in the living room. He even taught my parents’ Mynah bird some of the tunes he whistled.

We had been at home a few hours when I heard a familiar whistle. Daddy was home! I thought he must have managed to get off early to surprise us. With my heart pounding in joy and anticipation, I jumped up and dashed to the back porch to meet him at the door. About the time I reached the porch, a whistle rang out from the big birdcage in the corner. Drat! It was only that old Mynah bird belting out one of the tunes Daddy had taught it. I cannot describe how disappointed I felt. That disappointment turned to happiness when Daddy walked in later that day and enveloped me in his arms.

Although he has been gone many years, I often recall things he did, like scrubbing his hands in the kitchen sink. Whenever I smell the faint aroma of soap, I can almost see Daddy washing his hands when he came home from work every evening. At first, the suds turned brown as he scrubbed grease and grime away. Then the dark hair on his hands and arms appeared in the midst of white lather. That was the first of his evening routine. Next, he removed keys and other items from his pants pockets and dumped them on top of the refrigerator. Mother wanted him to put his things somewhere else, but her requests went unheeded until she placed a big bowl on top of the refrigerator to catch the clutter.

Daddy loved baseball. The sights and sounds of a baseball game a few blocks down the street or even on television remind me of him. When I was in high school, he sometimes took me to the Birmingham Barons games. He followed the World Series every year and especially enjoyed watching the games after he retired.

During his last years, Daddy built himself a workshop. One spring while he was busy bent over his workbench, a wren flew in and out. It built a nest, and later brought food to the babies she raised in it. She never showed any fear of the whistling human sharing his space with her.

Father’s Days come and go, but I do not need them to remind me of Daddy. Day by day, things as insignificant as soapsuds or the sight of a tiny wren flitting through the air call Daddy back to me. I am blessed because I still hold him in my heart.



Nina Keenam is a former newspaper reporter.