Sunday, November 30, 2008
My Daddy was always an enigma to me. As a very young child, my only memories of him are of him carrying me in his arms through the snow to his old blue Chevy pick-up. It's strange but I never realized until I was much older how safe I felt when Daddy carried me. Snows would come that would be knee-deep on him. Daddy would scoop us up, one by one, and carry us to the pick-up. Then, he would help Momma cross the yard to the drive. I don't remember the coming home part, just the leaving.
As a little girl, I don't really have memories of anything special he did with me or for me, just that he was always there. He was up and about the house when I got up and he was sitting in his favorite chair in the living room watching TV when I went to bed at night. He was at the breakfast table when we ate breakfast. He was out at work at lunch time. He was home and in the house by supper time every night. He sat at the head of our table and he thanked the Lord for our food. He never tucked us in at night, just sat in his chair and watched TV. But he was always there.
Daddy wasn't the type of 'hands-on' Dad that some Dads are. He didn't spend a lot of time with us, other than when we were out working together as a family on the farm, or when we were going to church, or when we were sitting in our living room watching TV. But, when you think about it, after all of that, where was there any time for anything else? He drove us around the country on vacation every summer. Momma planned where to go and Daddy took us there.
As a youth, he was even more of a detached Dad than when I was a child. He always said it was Mommas job to raise the girls and he would raise the boys! The only problem with that was, there was no boys! I realize now that he was detached because he didn't have the first idea of what to do with or for a teen aged daughter. There had only been boys in his family, and here he was living in a house full of females! He never commented much on what I wore, where I went or who I went there with. But, he was always there.
When I was 15, I met the man I would later marry. On the first Saturday that he came to my house to spend the afternoon, he parked his car in our drive, leaving his keys in the ignition. We were sitting in our living room talking and listening to music when we heard his car engine start up. Minutes later, we saw his car backing out of our drive, with Daddy at the wheel! He didn't ask or tell, he just got in the car, started the engine and took off! Terry didn't know quite what to think! Daddy was driving off down the road, gunning the engine and having the time of his life! Needless to say, Terry took his keys from then on!
Daddy was never the type to say 'I love you', but I never doubted that he did. On my wedding day, as we prepared to walk down the aisle, he patted my hand and said "I love you, Sis". My knees almost buckled from beneath me! Tears began to stream down my face. I could barely whisper "I love you too, Daddy". I will never forget that moment or the all engrossing feeling of love and acceptance I felt when I heard Daddy tell me he loved me. I thought I could be no happier than I already was; I was wrong because that simple phrase had multiplied my happiness exponentially! As always, Daddy was there.
Over the years as I grew older and hopefully wiser, I grew to love and appreciate Daddy more with every passing year. And Daddy found it easier and easier to tell me he loved me. The family grew and Daddy's ability to love and show love grew. He became a wonderful Papaw to my sister's children, laughing and playing and teasing them whenever they were around. Then, the great-grandchildren came along and he became Papaw Mac. He LOVES those babies! To see him now as a mature man in his mid 70's laughing with those babies and just basking in their presence is one of the greatest joys of my life. Through the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Daddy has always been there.
A couple of years ago, Momma became terminally ill with renal failure. As always, Daddy was there. He took care of Momma and took on responsibilities I had never seen him attempt before. He did laundry; he cleaned some in the house; he cooked some. He waited on Momma so patiently and lovingly. Every time I was with them, I couldn't help but think "Yep, Daddy's here". And he was, never complaining even though he himself was sick. Always giving his everything to Momma. When it came time for Momma to say goodbye and cross over, Daddy wanted to be there so badly, but Momma left before we could get there. But, in his heart, Daddy was there; as always, Daddy was there.
Now, I look at Daddy and he's getting older and weaker, and yes sicker too. Yet, every time we're together as a family, no matter how sick he is, Daddy is there. Sometimes, Daddy feels like the only constant thing in my life. And yet I know that the time is coming when I will have to say goodbye to Daddy to. I sometimes wonder what life will be like when Daddy's not there anymore. It's something too hard for me to consider for very long because Daddy has always been there. And, in my heart and his, I know Daddy will always be here for me. His love, though so difficult to express for many years, remains constant and true. And, when he departs and goes home to be with Jesus, that will love remain constant in my heart. Because there, Daddy will always be.