I came into this world at the last-minute on the last day of the year in 1957. After two girly daughters, my parents were trying for a boy, so I’m sure they were a little disappointed until I started to grow into myself.
My dad was always outside fishing, playing golf, or working on the nine-hole golf course he had as a side business, and much of that time I was with him. He was quiet, which was great because I talked constantly. But when he said something, it was usually funny. Eat your vegetables; it’ll make you pretty like me got some great looks from friends who stayed for dinner.
He took me fishing and among all the lessons about fish families and mud turtles and water snakes, I learned patience. Watching him during real and imaginary crises that arise in a houseful of girls, I learned the importance of remaining calm. This came in handy when he taught me how to drive, because I made my mom a nervous wreck–her words. It really came in handy when I taught my children how to keep a 2000 pound killing machine between the lines.
Daddy always thought about what he wanted to say before he said it because he knew words can’t be unsaid. Sometimes it seemed like he thought these words forever, particularly if I was asking for permission to do something.
Sometimes, when my mom worried out loud about my tomboyness. My dad would say, she’s all right. I don’t know if he was defending my right to be tomboy or whether he simply didn’t know what to do with a girl like me. It doesn’t matter. Letting me be me was the best lesson, the best gift he could ever give me.
Today, Daddy has Alzheimer’s. Thankfully, it’s been a slow progression, but recently, I’ve noticed it takes him about five or ten seconds to realize who I am when I first see him. I’m always grateful when his face lights up because he remembers. Alzheimers is a GOD AWFUL disease, and I know there will come a day when those ten seconds will stretch into forever. As horrible as I know that moment will be, I know I’ll be all right. My daddy said so.