We had my Daddy here visiting for the past week. I handed him over to the wheelchair driver at the airport this morning and we said goodbye. I’ve been a hot mess ever since.
I treasure my time with Daddy, selfishly hoarding the minutes and the memories. He’s always been larger than life to me. I spent countless hours on his lap or next to him in his chair growing up, watching football, baseball, golf, and NASCAR races. We would happily cheer (or boo) our favorite teams and drivers while munching on snacks – typically salami and cheese, or chips and dips. Daddy taught me how to fish, and helped me haul in my first catch when I was 10 years old. We had a small boat and went to the San Joaquin Delta frequently. I was a Daddy’s girl right out of the gate, and remain so to this day. When bad things happen, I turn to him. When good things happen, I call him to share the news. When I need advice, or just a shoulder, he’s where I go. When I haven’t seen him in awhile, I can almost physically feel it.
Our relationship has changed since I got married and had children of my own, but he is still Daddy. This week though, I stood back much of the time and watched him with my babies. Yesterday, the boys and I took him to the Air & Space Museum at Balboa Park. Daddy was in the Navy during the Korean War. He was on a carrier. I don’t remember him talking much about his Navy days when I was a kid. I love to hear him talk about it now, especially as he shares his stories with the boys. I caught them yesterday, looking at an exhibit, Daddy explaining the different planes, how they took off and landed on the ship, what he did, adventures he got into, what it was like to live on board a carrier. I choked up watching the three of them together, heads close, Daddy quietly talking, both boys intent on listening, and all intrigued. I quickly snapped a photo. This…..this is the best part of family.
Daddy started writing stories down about his life a short while back. I am so happy he’s doing it. To know what life was like for him growing up in the 30’s and 40’s, being in the Navy during a war, the young man he was, the person he was before he was Daddy, is simply priceless. Maybe he spoke little of it when I was a kid because we never asked. I ask now, a lot. The kids are pretty successful at getting him to talk and tell those stories. I can’t fully describe what an amazingly awesome thing that is.
I’ll see Daddy again next month. I’m already counting the days.