The cursor blinks on a blank page. I have writers block. My eyes wander aimlessly around the room before they come to rest on a faded, black and white photo of a soldier. His demeanor is serious, but there is a spark of mischief in his blue eyes that reveals the true man. The soldier is my father. With trembling hands, I begin to type. I have my inspiration. This isn’t the first time that Daddy has been an inspiration to me.
When I was a child, Daddy and I often took walks through the woods on our property. He was a nature lover, and left that part of his land uncultivated. During those walks, he took the opportunity to stress morals and values to me.
“Always leave a place for the wild animals. They were here before we were, and deserve a place to call home. Promise me you’ll do that?” I nodded, and crossed my heart to show my sincerity. “Always be honest.” He continued. “If you can’t give people your word, then you can’t give them anything.”
During those times, I had his undivided attention. With the patience of a saint, Daddy listened to my childish ramblings, and answered every question that I fired at him. I sometimes doubted my abilities. He constantly stressed that I could do anything that I put my mind to, and that he believed in me. Daddy worked for the highway department, and on his farm, but always made sure that there was time for me.
My first year in high school was filled with accomplishments. I made the high school band, jazz band, and cross-country team, and landed a major role for a play in my drama class. Daddy was at every athletic event, every play, and every musical performance I was in.
During performances of our play, I had to look no further than the front row to see the smiling face of my father. With tears of pride running down his weathered cheeks, Daddy was first one to jump to his feet and lead the standing ovation. The summer of my sophomore year, my life changed forever.
In the early morning hours of July 9, 1986, Daddy entered my bedroom to tell me goodbye before he went to work. The smell of Stetson wafted into my nostrils as he leaned over to kiss me on the cheek. Through half-closed eyes, I watched him turn and leave my room. I had no idea that I would never see him alive again.
Later that day, Mama and I received an unexpected call from Daddy’s boss. He informed us that Daddy had been seriously injured on the job. Within a couple of hours, we learned that the accident was fatal. The rest of the summer was a blur. I was numb, and I felt that part of me had died also. I had lost my hero and my biggest supporter. I realized that I would never again see the smiling face of my father in the audience or in the stands. I withdrew from everything that I loved, and dared anyone to get close to me.
I was angry with everyone, including Daddy. How dare Daddy leave me? I constructed a façade to conceal my bitterness. After a devastating car accident in 1998, I reached the lowest point of my life.
Because of the accident, I sustained inoperable nerve damage in my right arm. I was extremely bitter. I had lost my daddy, and now the use of my right arm. I could not help but wonder what else I would lose. I found the therapy for my arm long and frustrating. One day, after a very trying session, I went outside and stared at my surroundings. It didn’t seem fair that everything should be so cheerful. All my years of pent up emotion came over me at once.
“Daddy! I can’t do this anymore! It’s too hard.” I sobbed uncontrollably. The call of a dove distracted me. Doves were always Daddy’s favorite bird. As I listened, my mind drifted back to the walks that we took together. I remembered Daddy constantly telling me that I could do anything that I put my mind to.
After that day, I tackled and overcame every obstacle that I had with a vengeance. I found that Daddy had never really left me. He was still inside my heart, cheering me on.
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