Monday, December 29, 2008

Dads

Once upon a time there was a quiet, shy little blonde haired girl whose Daddy was a tough Master Sergeant in the Army. On the day she was born, her Daddy came to the hospital nursery, saw his little girl through the glass, and then left for Vietnam. He didn't come back until she was a year old. But he came back, and that's what counted.

This little skinny girl was so shy, that on the first day of Kindergarten she crawled into a bookshelf and curled into a ball and cried until her Mommy finally came to get her. She had no brothers and sisters, so she had a quiet life. Her Daddy played games with her, like Scrabble, from the time she was small. And every year her Daddy took her to an amusement park where he rode the rides with her and played skee ball for hours just to win his little girl a prize.

One day when she was about 9 years old, the shy little girl came home from school crying inconsolably. A bigger girl had been bullying her at school... calling names, making fun, getting other kids to laugh at her. On the way home on the school bus, this bully had often brought bags of candies and gumballs to share... and would give them out to everyone on the bus except the shy little girl, who sat and stared out the bus window, trying to pretend she didn't see the treats being passed around to everyone but her. No one knows for sure why the bully decided to pick on the shy girl, but she was merciless. She would smash spiders and bees on the bus and then wipe them on the shy little girl, while everyone laughed. On this particular occasion, the shy little girl had gone to school excited about her new winter coat. It was puffy and warm, and had fake fur around the collar and hood like an Eskimo coat. But the bully had chewed a big wad of gum, and then stuck it deep into the furred hood on the shy girl's new coat.

When her father heard the story, told by his daughter between sobs, he was irate. He comforted his child the best he could, and then he decided he would never let this happen again. But tearily she pleaded, "Please Daddy, don't call the school. Don't tell the bus driver! Everyone will laugh at me even more!" So instead, every morning, he got up early and drove his shy little girl to school so she would not have to ride that bus anymore.

One day on the way home from school, the shy girl and her Daddy just happened to be driving behind her old school bus. The bully looked out the back window and saw the shy little girl, hunched down in her seat next to her father, trying to be invisible. But the bully taunted, even through the windows... pointing, laughing, mocking. Mile after mile the shy girl looked away, tears in her eyes, as the children pressed against the glass, laughing and pointing at the urging of the bully girl. At each stoplight the bully would stick her middle finger up and flip off the shy girl. Light after light. The stoplights seemed endless. The little shy girl didn't notice her father's face getting redder and redder, his fists clenching the steering wheel... until at one stoplight, suddenly her father was out the door and storming up to the school bus. The shy girl's eyes opened wide and her mouth dropped open as she watched her father banging on the school bus doors until they opened. Her father angrily marched right up inside the bus, while the stoplight turned green and cars were honking, and he went straight to the back of the bus and in his 6 foot 1, booming Army Master Sergeant voice he made it VERY CLEAR to this bully that she was NOT going to disrespect him OR his child ANYMORE.

When he got back into the car and shut the door, nothing was said. The shy girl was terribly embarrassed, but noticed that none of the children on the bus dared even look backward out the window at her or her father. And that bully... she never spoke to the shy little girl again. She never even looked at her sideways.

Day after day, the Daddy continued drive his daughter to school and pick her up afterward. Even when the bully had moved on to other things, and the shy girl decided she would try riding the bus again, her Daddy got up to see her off to school every morning while her mother stayed in bed. The shy girl would run to the bus stop every morning, but 90% of the time she would miss the bus and walk back home so her Daddy could drive her.

He did this for years... through middle school, junior high, and high school until the shy little girl's blonde hair turned brown and she grew into a more confident girl who bought a car and drove herself to school.

The teenager was very independent and didn't spend much time with her Daddy anymore. As a matter of fact, they barely spoke. She was fierce about her "adult" status at the age of 16, and she didn't need any parents telling her what to do. After all, she was an honor roll student and had been working since she was 13 years old. So when she was 18, she left home without a blink or a thought and moved across the country to pursue her dreams. She never knew until later that her father had sat at the kitchen table after she left, and cried. It was the first time he had cried since his mother died more than 20 years earlier.

When the shy girl was away at college, her father often sent her care packages: candies, treats, teddy bears, pictures, and handwritten letters. She called him once in awhile, but not too often. But then a year and a half after she'd left home, she called to see if she could come back for the summer and live at home while she worked. Her father was thrilled to have her back, even for just a little while. A year and a half is so long for a Daddy not to see his little girl.

She came home and stayed for two months. She hadn't felt close to her father for a long time, but this summer was different. She was truly an adult now, and they would go out for breakfast and sit and talk about grown up things. Oh, she was busy working 2 or 3 jobs, and going out with her friends, but every once in awhile her Dad would ask her to go out for a meal, and she would go. And once or twice, they sat in the living room listening to music together. He always loved music, and sang to her when she was a child, and it made him very happy to see that she had grown up to love music as much as he did.

The shy girl fell in love that summer and got married. She turned 20 and moved out to live with her new husband and stepchildren. Her father told her mother.... "finally, I can relax and know she is taken care of." And then, just a few weeks later, he died.

He died in his sleep, unexpectedly. A heart attack, they said. The shy girl never got to say goodbye.

It's been nineteen years this week since my father died. I miss him terribly. I wish I had spent more time getting to really know him. I wish I'd told him more often that I loved him. He loved me so much.. I never really understood. And it makes me terribly sad that next year he will have been dead for half my life, and I am only 39. He never got to see any of his five grandchildren, and never got to know my youngest son who is named after him. And wouldn't he have adored my daughter, who was born on her grandpa's birthday, and is the spitting image of that skinny, blonde haired shy little girl.

Hug your Dad today. You just never know. And while I *thought* I wasn't really that close to my Dad while he was alive, I only love him more each passing year, and I know that no one... NO ONE... has ever loved me as much as he did.

Love you, Dad. I miss you lots.

40 comments:

CJ said...

Wow, you made me cry! Beautiful.

Shelley said...

What a lovely, loving tribute. You made me cry. And remember to appreciate my dad.

H8cake said...

I'm sitting here with tears running down my cheeks. I always wished I had a dad like that. I think we all have people in our lives that are positive and those that are negative. I need to focus on the good ones instead of remembering the bad. I'm glad you have good memories of your dad.

Karyn said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful Dad.

Linda said...

I'm balling my eyes out here at work!

bbubblyb said...

I'm sitting here at work too crying. What a beautiful story Lyn. Wish I had your dad. What a great story you wrote for him. Makes me realize I need to treasure everyone more in my life. My son was born on my father's Birthday too.

Pubsgal said...

Aw, hell, Lyn! Why-oh-why did I read this at work? I'm trying really hard to not cry. He sounded like a terrific dad. And I agree with Ben: your dad was and would be very proud of you. And at least you got to have some time together before he passed. It sounds like that time was very comforting and special for him, too.

Sherre said...

What a lovely lovely post. You made me miss (and remember) my dad as well!

Alexia@theonelastthing.com said...

I had a great dad -- he was the only one who loved me unconditionally. He died when I was 8. I am so sad my girls won't know him. I miss him to this day, and I'm 40 now.

Laurens_Closet said...

OH Lyn. You always move me with your posts. Thank you for, again, sharing something so intimate & personal. I used to wonder why you don't show your face but now I know- it must be easier to be so personal when you can hide your identity a little.

And... by the way... I know about 150 blog readers who would love to kick a little school bus bully's ass right now. Or at least slash a couple of her tires. Although I'm sure she's living somewhere in her own self-inflicted misery, right?

But if you want to share her name/address... we'll take care of her for ya! ; )

Amy
rebuildingamy.blogspot.com

moonduster said...

My husband I both cried reading this post. (((hugs)))

Honib1 said...

having lost both my parents in the last 7 years.. no truer words were spoken my friend.. Hug your dad if you have him people.. hug your momma too.. wonderful post!!

Bethany said...

Oh, Lyn, my heart aches for you! I know I'm so guilty of taking people for granted--thanks for a timely reminder. *Hugs*
Bethany

Frantic Home Cook said...

Ok, I'm crying now. What a great Dad. Thanks for sharing.

Juice said...

This made me cry. I'm very close to my father and the thought of losing him always brings me to tears, even though I know I'll see him again in heaven. Glad that your dad was such a special person to you.

Anonymous said...

Lyn,
Tears are streaming down my face. You gave you Dad a wonderful gift that last summer. I see NOW how you got to be such a good parent. Your Dad set a wonderful example for you and he must be so proud looking down on the fine strong woman he raised.
Again, as with your Mom, a beautiful tribute to your Dad, and an honest spotlight directly into your soul.
Karen in TN

~TMcGee~ said...

Lyn, what a beautiful memoir. I know you are going to take this coming year to put together some photo albums for your children but I really wish you would think about writing a small book of memoirs for them as well.
God has given you such a gift when it comes to writing, you move people with your words. The emotions your invoke causes many of us to take a look inward. You, my friend, have a gift...keep using it.

~TMcGee~ said...

The emotions your WORDS invoke (sorry for the typo)

Stages of Change said...

That was powerful. I teared up. Very moving. Thank you so much for sharing this story.

deb said...

That was a beautiful way to share the love you have for your Dad, and how much you appreciate the love your Dad showed you. Reading it makes me even more thankful I got the chance this Christmas to write my Dad a love letter. I don't think he has ever hugged me tighter. Thanks for sharing something so touching, I hope others are inspired to tell their Dads how much they love them, faults and all. (You do have a way with words, I'm glad I stumbled onto your blog, thanks)

Deb said...

What a lucky girl you were.

aworkingmomsjoy said...

Well, I got my cry for the day in :) What a winderful tribute.

Anonymous said...

I wish he was still alive to use his imposing presence to kick your husband's butt! (Said wistfully more than angrily.)

Jeanne said...

What a beautiful, beautiful entry. I miss my dad too. Sometimes we never truly appreciate what we have until we don't have it anymore.

((hugs))
Jeanne

Pamela said...

Lyn, I am sending you a huge hug. Your story really touched my heart and I want to thank you for sharing it with us.

elife said...

What a beautiful tribute to your Dad. I'm sure he'd be so proud to see the woman you've grown up to be.

Hanlie said...

Beautiful post!

My husband and I are so lucky to each still have both our parents in good health. My husband is on leave this week and we are spending almost every day with one or the other set of parents, going on outings and visiting. I'll give my dad a hug today!

new*me said...

I am very close to my dad and have always been. He had prostate cancer a few years back and beat it. We still worry about him though. I get to see my parents at least once a week so I hug them every chance I get. I am a hugger..........my dad pointed that out to me last week :)

I know your dad is smiling down on you!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for what you wrote.It reminded me of my dad. He died january the 29th I was 16. My dad was forever laughing and I wish to remember him that way!

Teale said...

Hi Lyn, thanks for checking in on me! This is a great post, and also meaningful to me, as my father passed away 9 years ago this New Year's Eve... also suddenly, in his sleep, from a heart attack.

As cliche as it is, in the new year, I am climbing back on the horse (and hoping to stay on for life!). I am using my upcoming nuptials, not as an excuse to get on the ball, but as one of many reasons... Glad someone is still behind me!

Diana said...

I'm sitting here crying. What a bittersweet post. You were so lucky to have had such a wonderful father. I'm just sorry his time was so short.

kilax said...

What a beautiful story. The love between a father and daughter is very special. I didn't realize that until I started college... this is a good reminder.

Lela said...

That's beautiful. Thank you.

Big Girl said...

Wonderful post, I'm wiping my tears away right now. I'm off to call my dad. thanks for sharing.

jae said...

Oh, Lyn, I'm so sorry. Hugs to you. It's wonderful that you have so many fond memories of him. ~j

Cold Spaghetti said...

Oh my. I checked in for inspiration and motivation and am surprised to, instead, be crying. I am so sorry for your loss and thankful for the story. I loved your telling of the school bus incident... what a wonderful father.

The Lassie said...

Oh Lyn, I only just read this post - you've made both me and my husband cry.Even though I am a tad bit late, I wanted to send you *hugs*

myweightylossjourney said...

I've only just found your blog. I cried when I read this. I'm lucky I still have my dad. In fact, he's just finished building a deck for me. I look / walk out the back and see the wonderful job he has done and the love and effort he put in. I love him, and he loves me. I am so lucky.

Anna said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. I'm bawling right now but you've inspired me to become closer to my dad.

LN said...

Very tender and loving.