Monday, March 20, 2017
I have always been a "daddy's girl", even when I hated and despised my dad for what he did to me and to our family. (That bitterness and anger was taken care of a long time ago and you can read about it in one of my earlier postings.)
One of the earliest photos I have is of me in the arms of my father. He was a big and strong man who was also meek and quiet. I would love to sit next to him at church and trace the tattoos on his arms with my little fingers. When I tired of doing that, he would allow me to cuddle up next to his side under those same strong arms. There I would be at peace while I listened to the preaching.
I can only remember one time when my dad "disciplined" me and it came as a total shock. I won't go into details. Suffice to say, it worked! There was another time when he was suppose to spank me when I was around nine years old and had been a super brat and mouthed off to my mom. Mom demanded that Dad take care of the situation. Having never been punished by my dad, I was a bit scared and did not know what to expect. He took me to my room and sat with me on the bed. He told me that he hated physical punishment and would never spank me. But to appease my mom, we had to pretend. So, instead of swatting my behind, my dad "spanked" the bed while I stood up and "cried". (I think that is when I learned to love acting and found I was really good at fake crying.) Now that Mom is in heaven, this is the first time she has probably learned about this story of my dad and I.
My dad is now 91 years old and is in failing health. I know it won't be long until he joins his bride of 69 years. I guess that is why I am thinking so much about him today.
He had his flaws and wasn't the best dad, but he was loyal and faithful. He was also stubborn and proud. I remember one time having an argument with him about something that I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, but he stuck to his belief and would not be swayed. The very next day when I had proof in hand that he had been wrong, he denied that he had ever held the opposing belief. All I could do was shut my mouth, shake my head, and walk away.
My dad taught me to be independent by allowing me to make mistakes and learn from them. He taught me to be strong in my beliefs. He taught me to love math and to be able to apply it to every day life. He showed me how to be patient and to endure strife...and to keep your mouth shut when necessary. He taught me faithfulness to God, church, family, nation, and community. He taught me how to drive a stick-shift and had me help him rebuild the engine on my car when "someone" (not me) drove it without my permission and without oil and caused the engine to freeze up. I will never forget putting the rings on the pistons and trying to get the whole thing back into the cylinder.
My dad was in WWII and has only recently shared his memories of that time. He was on an LST that took part in D-Day, the invasion of southern France, and north Africa. The Navy then transferred him to an LSM that took him to Japan for the invasion. He was in Tokyo Bay for the signing of surrender, then stayed behind to help with the clean-up. I know that he still has memories buried deep down inside that he won't remember and will never share. That's okay! I am proud of my dad.
It is hard to see my dad as he slowly declines. I remember the first time I hugged him after he had his heart attack and bypass surgery. No longer did I feel the strong shoulder muscles that always assured me that Daddy would protect me. Over the years those muscles, as well as all the others, have gotten weaker and smaller and his stature has shrunk to my height. At this point, he can no longer stand on his own nor take care of himself. About all he likes to do anymore is sleep for hours on end. But inside, he is still my strong and loving dad. And even though some of the memories still hurt, I will cherish the life I had with my daddy.