Archive for June, 2011

Always A Daddy’s Girl

June 19, 2011

 Today has been bittersweet day for me; and I’ve been giving it my best shot to dwell on the sweet. I was blessed to have had my biological father, Travis aka “Buddy Boy” in my life during the early years of my life. This year marks 40 years since his passing, one month after turning 50, an age which at this phase of my life, I now consider to be young. Although he and my mother separated prior to my starting Kindergarten we continued to have a very close relationship, spending time together most weekends, and speaking on the phone whenever we felt like it. Some of my earliest and most fond memories with him are:

1. Me waking up in the morning smelling coffee and bacon in the kitchen, tip-toeing to the closed kitchen door in my footed pajamas and knocking as I opened it and him saying “Who that coming through that door” and my response “Mee!” “Me Who?” “Meeee!” as I peeked then swung the door open ran in the kitchen into his arms for a hug and a kiss. I sat down to the plate of biscuits and Karo syrup, scrambled eggs and bacon he prepared for me as he poured his coffee from his cup into the saucer and sipped it, and we would “chat” until it was time for him to get ready for work. He carried me in his arms downstairs to my godparent’s apartment to stay until my mother would get in from her graveyard shift at the hospital and get some rest.

2. Waiting for him to get home from work to see what he he’d brought me home in his black lunch pail—usually a bag of Cheetoes.  Then sitting on his lap after dinner as he sat on the couch watching television, and rocked me singing “Go to Sleepy Little Baby” and my saying “do it again; do it again” then after several rounds him saying “Baby, Daddy’s tired” as he was about to doze off himself.

3. Being carried to the car before daylight on a Saturday morning for an all day fishing trip during which I’d sleep, eat, drink, play and listen to music all day long, and occasionally catch a fish.

Even with my parents not being together, there was my godfather, Mr. Moore, who lived downstairs and whom I spent a lot of time with. This was a gentle giant of a man whom, on some weekday evenings and Saturdays I followed around the apartment building as he did the landscaping and made repairs inside the apartment units. I learned a lot from hanging out with him, not knowing that one day those lessons would be prove to be vital to my survival in a life of singleness. On Sunday mornings we walked to Sunday school, stopping by the store on the way, to buy Lifesavers. After Sunday School I’d sit between him and my godmother and he and I would share Lifesavers and finger games during church service (his hands were the biggest hands I’d ever seen in my life). Sometimes my godmother would give us a disapproving but loving eye to let us know that our “playing” in Church was getting out of hand–literally . On Sunday nights we ate ice cream together and listened to church services on the radio.

At one point I was blessed to have yet even a third father in my life, as my younger sister’s father became a very loving and positive presence in my life. Strangely enough both he and my father were unwavering in their demonstration of pure love for both me and my sister. I was proud to boast that we shared the same first and middle initials “E.L.”; and He gave me my nickname “Swee’Pea”. He also gave me my very first camera, record player and albums!  (Three things which remain an integral part of my life today—wow, hadn’t even thought about that before now).

During adolescence I lost two of these fathers–one to death and one to marriage to a woman other than my mother. Shortly after my father’s passing I met my best friend in Jr. High School and her father immediately became a father role in my life, always encouraging and expecting the best of me academically and character-wise. He always remembered my birthday and special accomplishments, each one being acknowledged with cards with a little “spending money” inside.

 Unfortunately, in my mid twenties I also lost both of my “godfathers” within a relatively short period of time. Having taken time off work to attend my godfathers’ funerals a co-worker jokingly told me “Your godfather must be a cat with nine lives” 

 As I look back on it, I realize that it was some time after that I began to experience bouts of depression, through which I didn’t began to break through until I was prompted by a very sweet and effective therapist that I’d not yet grieved my father’s death or more appropriately, fathers’ deaths.

Until I was about 40 years old, I would find myself feeling strangely “not well” on Fathers’ Day. Even then it took some time for me to become conscious of what was really going on—wow. It was about this time that I “adopted” my pastor’s father, Ed “Dad” Huddleston (which I share in detail in my memoir). Interestingly it turns out he was also known by some as “Buddy Boy”.

I now had a “Dad” again. He lived out of town, and I didn’t see him often. However when he showed up at church unexpected one Fathers’ Day I squealed in delight and cried like a BABY! Although he had seven children (including three daughters) of his own I felt as loved as if I had been his own. Calling him on the phone, I loved hearing the voice on the other end always answer “God bless you”. I’d say “Hey Papa” to which he’d respond “Is this my daughter?” to which I’d respond “Yes”, feeling like that three year old at the kitchen door.

We’d laugh and talk about anything and everything, but most of all the love of God. This was the most loving, loveable, wise and wittiest men I’ve known. The first week of this year would be the last time “Daddy’s Girl” would hear that voice as “Dad” too passed away on January 8th. When I start to feel sad at the loss of my dads I also look at how I’ve been blessed many times over in my life with such caring, loving, protective men who never once abused me verbally, physically, sexually or emotionally, and taught me my self worth—something that not many women can profess.

I also realize how having caring father figures in my life have enabled me to establish and maintain a loving and trusting relationship with my spiritual Father. I’m so grateful to not know any better than to think that my Father will feed and nurture me, carry me, rock me, give me the desires of my heart, laugh and talk with me, bless me, and be proud of me being His Girl. Although I sorely miss each one of my “Daddys” and I have now joined the village of “elders” myself, I can honestly say and believe that I am still and will always be “Daddy’s Girl”

 

[Check back for pictures posted later]

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