“Just Daddy”

 

 

This has been the hardest thing for me to write—ever.  No, no.  Not because grief consumed me and I couldn’t bring myself to think about it.  Oh, sure.  I’ve grieved.  I still grieve.  But the obstacles in the path of my thought process haven’t been emotional.  Really. 

 

My problem with writing about my Daddy?  I just couldn’t think what to say.  That’s all.   In the big scheme of things, he was just….Daddy.  My Daddy.  Just because he was the leading man at the house I grew up in wouldn’t really make him a figure of interest to anybody who didn’t know him.

 

We buried my father on February 2, 2009.  When the lid to the casket closed, a panic swooped over me.  I would never, ever see him again this side of Heaven.  Never.  And with the closing of that lid, everything I could have, would have, should have asked him about himself was sealed forever.  No more chances to “get to know him better.”  I had my chance and all I could do was hope I had learned enough. 

 

I grew up in an era when so many dads were—well—just dads.  They married our mothers which made them husbands and then they became fathers.  Simple.  Having kids was just part of being married for so many men in this era.  Part of the job—just went with the territory.  Well, that’s how it seemed to me.  So, to me as a kid growing up, he was just plain ol’ Daddy.  Nothing special.  Just a guy doing his job.

 

Oh, sure.  There were the other fathers, the exceptions.  And sometimes, as a little girl, I seethed with jealousy toward my friends whose fathers were the exceptions.  The dads who called their daughters “Princess”.  I honestly convinced myself that my dad would have been a better dad if he would have only called me “Princess.”  But my father, plain ol’ Daddy, didn’t anoint me with that coveted name.  Oh, well, I survived the beastly abuse of not being the little princess of my daddy’s eye.  I somehow managed to shoot to adulthood as a fully functional, well adjusted woman in spite of this atrocity. 

 

The beauty of it all?  I learned he couldn’t have been a better father.  Even considering the fact that he never had a pet name for me, that he didn’t take me fishing, that he didn’t play games with me—he still couldn’t have been a better father.

 

He supported his family on $2.15 an hour with his Post Office job (before it was union and before it was called Postal Union) and pushed a broom at a junior high school (in the days before they were called ‘middle school’) after work to make extra money. 

 

Times were hard, money was short.  Suppers consisted often of pinto beans and cornbread or, on Sundays we ate scrambled eggs (never knew the Sunday egg connection—have made a mental note to find out from my mother).  But we ate.  We didn’t want.  We were happy.  We were a family and our house was a warm sanctuary. 

 

I thought I knew my daddy as well as I needed to.  He wasn’t my best friend.  He was my father.  The man who raised me.  In the world I lived in (this is the world before time-outs replaced spankings), your daddy was just your daddy, and that was all he was supposed to be.  What more did you need to know?

 

Well, I had a startling revelation that he might be a little more than that when I got married.  The morning I was scheduled to leave my girlhood home to move to Alabama as a married woman, I got up early to say ‘good-bye’ to my daddy before he left for work.  He hugged me so tight that I couldn’t break his hold.  When he finally let go, he’d been crying.  Tears were in his eyes.  How dare he?  This man who was supposed to be as indifferent as I was?  Crying?  Yes.

 

From then on I realized he was more than just my father, but was a man with feelings and a personality I hadn’t gotten to know.  He was a man who had a whole life before I came along, a man I never knew. 

 

Thank God for revealing this to me while he was still alive.  For letting me learn about my father—the man who served his country in World War II in the Eleventh Airborne and earned a Purple Heart.  The man who did double duty and served in the Navy on The U.S.S. Wasp.   The man who sort of looked like a combination of William Holden and Paul Newman when he was young.  The good looking man who married my mother and conceived me and my siblings.

 

The man who, as it turns out, actually had a fascinating life, but who to me was still just Daddy. 

 

 

 

 

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17 Comments

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17 responses to ““Just Daddy”

  1. apb148

    Carol, great blog. Sharing in this way makes him special to others as well. Great job.

  2. unwriter1

    You did better than many people. You had a chance to find out that your father was more than just a dad. Your dad may not have had a pet name for you but he worked hard to ensure you had a home and food. He provided for you as best he could. That’s more than can be said for a lot of fathers these days.

    Yes, you went through the grieving process. I was there a bit with you. You came out of it and wrote this. You’ll make it, you’re strong. When times get rough, you have shoulders to cry on. We’ll always be here for you.

  3. Just Daddy. Nothing will ever be the same Gigi. As it was for me and many others who had life in their hands, in the form of a Mommy and Daddy one day and the next, it seemed, was gone. Life will never be the same for you, but that’s as it should be in this regard. No parent would want to live to see their little ones die and so there’s only one alternative. They must leave first. But they leave us with much when they go. All you have to do is look into the mirror and there right before your eyes are your Mommy and Daddy looking right back at you. Love ya sweetheart. Dom…

  4. There’s a reason Tom Brokaw calls these guys “the greatest generation,” and you’ve captured that beautifully, Carol.

  5. Terre

    After my own Daddy passed away April 29, 2008, your words had been well said. There were questions I wanted to ask, but thought I would have more time. I am left with the memory of calling him that day while he was in hospital and the phone went dead. He didn’t want me to come because he felt too sick, he said. I never got to tell him, that day, that I love him.
    Daddy was special. he worked hard driving a gravel truck trying to make enough money to see us through the winter months. We never wanted because we had a house, and food on the table. He sacrificed a lot for that luxury. You had your daddy a lot longer then I did. Mine served in the Korean War.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  6. Wonderful blog, Carol. Your dad sounds like he was a great guy, a true old-fashioned dad.

  7. AMY ABERNATHY

    Awe you went and made me cry…..

  8. I cried reading this post -for you, for your loss of your father who you knew, but felt you didn’t really know enough about him in the time allotted to you. And I cried for myself as well -yes a bit of self-pity entered in as I thought well, regardless, at least you knew him. I never knew my Dad as he died when I was less than three weeks old but all my life I have tried to imagine what he was like, to wonder what my life would have been like had he lived. I wanted to know how I may be a bit like him too -in appearance, personality, abilities, etc. But when I tried to ask people -relatives who knew him as I realized in adulthood these were things I felt I needed to know in order to know who I really am, deep inside. The answers I got to those questions throughout my life were merely slight physical descriptions -not the deep things, the telling things of what type of person he was, his interests, and such. No one seemed to understand why this was of such importance to me over the years. But, when I got interested in and working on family tree stuff, and when I finally had a chance to meet some of my older cousins -children of my dad’s older brother -they actually understood what it was I wanted and needed to know about him and tried as best they could recall to compare him to their Dad (who I never knew either) and in that way, I kind of came to “know” him finally -almost 60 years after he died but better late than never too, ya know.
    I could very much envision your Dad -not by features but by type I guess you would say -by the era in which we both were raised, the economics of the time, the parenting methods in general usage then too -a good, stable and caring parent. And it made me feel very happy that you were able to write this post about him then as well.
    Great job, Carol -very moving post indeed.

  9. Carol: I swear I would read anything you write! I love your blogs. And I’m so sorry for your loss.

    It sounds like we have parallel lives. My “Daddy” also fought in WWII, in the Air Rescue Squadron, flying in a PBY rescue plane. Oh, the stories he has to tell. I’m thankful I got to hear them.

    My Daddy too is dying … probably tonight. If not, tomorrow. Yesterday I held his hand, possibly for the last time (the hospice nurse gave him three days, counting from yesterday), and thought of all the good times we’d had together.

    But he’s in pain and it’s time to go. He has always been so full of vitality and vinegar, it’s hard to think of him in past tense. I just keep thinking – “His turn is over.” I was ready for it, expecting it, accepting of the inevitable, but you’re never really prepared, are you. I only hope when my “turn” is over, I can handle it with the grace and optimism he has shown.

    So, I wish you well and hope you find solace in the memories you have of your father – and in your writing. Maybe it’s time for me to create a Blog.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Another Carol.

  10. Carol,
    If ever there was a beautiful tribute to a father from a daughter, you nailed it to a “T”. Take care and God Bless.

  11. You’re right. It’s hard to see parents in any light except after we’ve entered the picture.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

  12. Jen

    Beautiful post. It brought tears to my eyes. I am so sorry for your loss.

  13. Thanks for sharing your daddy with the world, Carol. God bless.

  14. I’m glad you got to know him a little bit better before your time together was gone.

  15. That was stunning, Carol. I’m glad I clicked on you. =c) And you have my deepest sympathies on what was obviously the great loss of a faithful American, but, more importantly, a wonderful father.

  16. Heart wrenching, Gigi… I will have to face the same as my dad progresses with his disease; non-hodgkins lymphoma. I love my daddy too, yet I didn’t have a pet name either. I was called “my debbie”, I guess you would call that a pet name, huh?

    I loved the story and will follow your blog, you are an amazing writer.

  17. Thank you for sharing your writing. You have such a wonderful gift. I’m teary.

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