Father's Day conjures up so many memories for me. One look at this picture of me cradled safely in Daddy's lap - should make it obvious that I am, and always have been a "daddy's girl." Along with the way my big brown eyes mirror his mysteriously dark ones, I inherited traits that are not visible, but definitely "seen" in a big way! Daddy passed down an independent, determined, and downright stubborn streak in me! Little did I know at age 4, that the traits that could be exasperating, were the very ones I would need to face some tough life challenges in adulthood. The apple had not fallen far from the tree of this handsome, dark-haired man. I am my Daddy's daughter! While we have "butted heads" more than a few times, he is the one I've always run to and could always depend on. He's the man who has been there for me, whether standing by "just in case," or picking me up when I fell flat on my face. He's scooped me up, held me close, helped me out, and given me the courage to try again.
Not only has Daddy picked me up, but he has rescued me - more times than I can count. Every time I find myself far away from where I started, wondering how my stubbornness and independence drove me such a long distance, I am reminded of the big oak tree at the edge of our back yard behind Daddy's garden. There was a rope dangling from that old tree where all the children in the neighborhood gathered to channel their inner Tarzan and Jane. I was terrified of heights though, so I never took part in this summer ritual. One day, my little brother coaxed me up the tree. I was not going to be ridiculed. If the others could do it, so could I. My fear of heights faded into my fierce stubborn streak. Once I scurried up the tree, reality gripped me like a vice. It seemed I was miles from the ground below. My brother and the other neighborhood kids stood on the ground yelling up at me; not because they cared if I played the game or not, but because they couldn't take their turns at swinging through the trees with the "greatest of ease" until I swung down. Nothing would make me budge. I was frozen and couldn't move a muscle. Nothing that is, until Daddy appeared - his big brown eyes looking up at me. My brother had gone to the house to get him to help. Daddy fussed a bit at me (which was just our way), but then he opened his arms assuring me that he would catch me when I jumped, and like always, he did! My hero had rescued me again.
While it is obvious to everyone else what a hero Daddy has been in my life and the life of others, he has been oblivious of just what an incredible man he is. I've always told him he is the smartest man I know! If he didn't know how to do something he would figure it out one way or the other. Sometimes that would get him in a bind I suppose, but his stubbornness that flows through my veins as well, was the very thing that most often got the job done. He simply would never give up on a project until he sorted it out, learned what didn't and did work, until it was finally completed. The many evenings I've stayed awake all night long working on projects are his fault! I can't stand to give up on something until it is completed.
A few days ago, I dropped by to see my mom and dad. It had been over a week since I had visited
them, but for Daddy, it seemed it had been much longer. I suppose when you're 85 years old, days move faster, yet at the same time, moments seem longer when being apart from those you love. Each moment of life becomes more precious. I have always been diligent with staying in touch with my folks, calling them, checking on them, being there at a moment's notice when they need me. Still, I realize that as my days move along in a routine fashion, I find myself letting time slip by without visiting.
The days between visits must've been weighing heavy on Daddy's mind. He seemed disappointed that my son Josh was not with me. Daddy has been a father figure for Josh also in the absence of his own dad. Daddy truly has gone above and beyond in his fatherly responsibilities. We both are forever grateful. I told Dad that we would be back for a visit a couple of days later after Josh's work shift. As I stood by his recliner, I held softly to his strong, yet shaky hand. His reply stung just a bit. "You better visit while you can." He was thinking out loud. I knew exactly what was on his mind.
It has only been a month since my sweet Maw Maw passed away, and her absence in their home was still fresh on his mind. By most standards, 97 years is a long blessed life to be on this earth. However, it is only a "vapor" as scripture states. Moments missed can never be recaptured. They turn into days and years that you can never get back. Daddy's thoughts were lingering on the "hereafter" to the point that the "here and now" held a sense of urgency for him. I could tell by the tone of his voice and the look in his eyes. He's right... moments pass so quickly and once gone, we realize what matters and what doesn't. So today, I don't want to let those moments pass. I look forward to hugging that brown-eyed man, telling him I love him, and hearing him say the same. Daddy wasn't much on "mushy emotion" when he was younger, but his every action showed just how much he loves me. As he has faced the reality of age and health challenges, he's been much more open to share from his heart, and what a beautiful heart it is! As we enjoy a late lunch and a lazy Father's Day afternoon, I hope he can sense the joy that we have in knowing he's Paw Paw, Daddy, and the best man a girl could possibly have for her daddy.
I love you Daddy... I am still, and forever will be "Daddy's Girl!"