STANDING IN THE WINGS
“Daddy Memories” tiptoe down through the streets of yesterday and invade my current thoughts with the same twinkle in his hazel-blue eyes and teasing smile on his face that I knew as a child.
Tall, handsome, intelligent, hard-working, level-headed, good-natured, and fun-loving describe this man who was “Daddy” to me and whose pride in each of his children was very evident.
During my growing-up years, Daddy worked as an award-winning shoe salesman, and department manager. The fact that this daughter of a super shoe salesman “hated” shoes was hilarious to Daddy – especially when it was time for a new pair of shoes. He thought it was funny that, when I could have my pick of any shoes in his store, I preferred “going barefoot.” Consequently, he nicknamed me his “Country Girl”. Although he always provided the shoes I needed, he let me go without shoes whenever I wanted.
With each summer came Daddy’s pride in the large garden that he planted and tended in the open field next to our house. To this day, nothing can compare with the smell of fresh-dug dirt and the feel of that dirt running through the fingers of my hands or oozing through my toes and beneath my feet, as I worked beside him in the garden. (Yes, I was barefoot.)
I have no memory of being sick very often as a child. When I was sick, it was always Daddy who made me feel better. When I was seven years old, after surgery to have my tonsils taken out, I came out of the anesthesia screaming at the top of lungs and no one except Daddy could quiet my screams or stop my tears. During my “awake” times at the hospital, Daddy was by my side, continually talking and reading to me - sometimes, just reading the newspaper out loud. As long as I heard his voice, I was OK.
I was about six years old, when heavy snow blanketed everything in sight. Daddy had bought us a brand new sled for just such a day. My older brother, my sister, and I spent hours frolicking in the snow with our new sled, before we were called inside. On our way into the house, we hung the sled on the hook just inside the doorless garage.
Daddy arrived home from work that night to find that someone had stolen our sled from the hook where it hung. Seeing our devastation and tears, he made his way to the garage. It was no longer snowing, and the skies had cleared enough for moonlight to spill onto the snow-covered ground.
In the moonlight, Daddy followed the footprints and sled tracks out of our yard and down the street until he discovered the sled and the kids who had taken the sled. I don’t know what Daddy said to those older kids, when he discovered them with our sled. I know only that he returned home, pulling our sled behind him, as my hero.
Memories of Daddy flood my mind and heart. . . his teaching me (at age five) to worm a hook, throw a line into the lake, and the delight he showed when I caught my first fish . . . his showing me how to make a basketball net from a bushel peach basket and attach it to a tall old oak tree and then expressing his joy when I shot a basket ball through the “basket-hoop”.
Daddy died three months before my graduation from college. He had called me “his student”. . . “his writer”, and it was as much for him as it was for me that I finished the last three months of my college career. I felt Daddy “standing in the wings”, as I walked across the stage to receive the college’s Poetry Award and my diploma on Graduation Day. I felt not only his presence but also his love, his joy, and his pride in my accomplishments. . .
Thanks for the memories, Daddy. I’ll see you, when I get to Heaven, and I’ll introduce you to my husband, my children, and my grandchildren.
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