This afternoon I sat at my dad’s bedside, crying as I watched him take last breath. I’m broken-hearted right now and feel like writing about the man who meant the world to me. I’ll start here…
I was the epitome of a “daddy’s girl” growing up. In my eyes, Dad could do nothing wrong. I laughed at his silly jokes when nobody else would, I worried about him, I loved to spend time with him… he was my hero. He was the only one in my young life who didn’t walk out on me.
One of my most favorite things to do with my dad was fishing. He showed me how to cast and how to bait the hook. Well, he did the worms… I couldn’t bring myself to pierce the cute, little worms with a hook. He assured me the worms couldn’t feel it and that they could breathe under water. I believed him, of course. My dad knew everything.
He showed me how to reel a fish in, but always took the hook out of the fish’s mouth for me since I was too squeamish to do it. Some of my fondest memories in life involve sitting with my dad, fishing pole in hand, eating Red Hots (he always got a box for me when we’d go fishing), and waiting for the fish to bite.
One day in second or third grade, I was about to get on the bus after school to go home, when I saw my dad waving at me from across the street of the school. He had gotten off work early and decided to surprise me by taking me fishing. We had a great time. We rented a boat and went out on the lake. I, of course, had my Red Hots and we fished until the sun started to set. To this day, I don’t know why he chose just me to go with him. I have a brother who is only a year and a half older than me. The only thing I can figure is that he was worried about me. In spite of my dad’s love, my early years were filled with a lot of sadness. Maybe he saw something in me that alerted him to the fact that I needed some one-on-one time with him.
There was only one not-so-great part of that day– for some reason, my dad failed to mention to my sisters that he was going to pick me up from school and take me out on the lake. My three older sisters were semi-responsible for my brother and me when we got home from school. When I failed to get off the bus with the rest of the neighborhood kids, they were in a panic. This was before cell phones so they had no way to contact my dad. I think my stepmother was working that day. I don’t know if they tried to call her. My nearly hysterical sisters were a couple minutes shy of calling the police to report me missing, when my dad and I showed up at the house. I was all smiles, but I remember my dad apologizing profusely for not letting my sisters know.
I still get a chuckle when I think of that day. It obviously meant a lot to me because it is such a vivid memory and I hold it dear. My dad– my childhood hero– created that memory. I love him for this gift.