We are coming up on the two year anniversary of the loss of my dad. It is hard to believe that it has been two years already. Pastor Keys said it usually takes a couple of years for you to settle into a new normal without your loved one. For about a year, every memory of him made me cry. I would be working at my desk and a cloud of sadness would come over me and the tears would start with any warning or trigger. Co-workers tiptoed around me for fear I would start up again. There was like a loop of film that constantly played in my mind about his last day and his death. Now the good things about my daddy bubble to the top more than the loop of this last day. I think more about how much fun that he was. He was the fun dad that liked to play with his kids.
My mother went to work early, so my daddy always woke us up in the mornings to get ready for school. He would flip on the light and say, “Up, up, up! Rise and shine!” and then he would put his hands on the bed and make it bounce right by our faces. Shannon and I would whine, “Stop!” and he would grin and bounce us that much harder. He would ask, “What do you want for breakfast?” which meant what kind of cereal did you want. One morning I told him that I thought I wanted a hotdog for my breakfast. I went to wash up and get dressed and when I went to the kitchen, there was a hotdog with ketchup at my place. I felt so bad for my crazy request, but at the same time, I felt very loved.
When we got in trouble with our mother, she would send us to daddy saying, “He is going to have a fit!” We would walk to daddy and tell him that we were in trouble. He would walk us outside and we would hike through the woods to the creek instead of being punished. We would play in the creek for hours. Or he would drive us to Mal’s for candy telling us that we need to mind our mother. Once he drove us up to Cane Creek because they had some flooding. I can remember just riding around looking at the destruction before he took us back home. He never raised his voice to us or never gave us a spanking, even if we needed one.
Because my dad was a diesel mechanic, sometimes he brought his work home. He took me to school one morning in a big Mack truck. Just picture that big truck in the drop off line with the other parents in front of the school. I begged him to please drop me off away from the school and let me walk. Nope, he would not hear of it. He drove me right up to the front door of my high school and when I opened the door to climb out, he blew the big, loud air horn. Everything came to a complete standstill and even kids were hanging out of the classroom windows. He also took me to school in a Greyhound bus once.
My daddy had Alzheimer for ten years. He had forgotten everything about working on trucks. He had forgotten that he just ate a Little Debbie Nutty Bar (his favorite) and would eat a whole box. He had forgotten most of his relatives. He had forgotten how to do simple things that used to come naturally to him. But, he never forgot his wife, children or grandchildren. He knew and called us by name until the day that he died. That was the best gift of all.