Good morning, Readers:
Another beautiful day filled with sunshine for Father’s Day 2013. This day is special to all who were close to dear ole Dad. As a child, I remember babysitting or cleaning, just to get a bit of money to buy my dad, and my papa, a Father’s Day gift. For both, I bought ties, since Papa wore ties to church on Sunday morning, and Dad wore ties to work nightly. Papa was a mill worker, a loom fixer at the dictatorial Bibb Manufacturing Company. Dad worked in the hotel industry as a night auditor. I respected both of them, striving to always please them.
Over the years, as I grew older, Papa became highly critical of me, refusing to accept that I was growing up, and as a teenager, I loved rock and roll music, singing, dancing, and wearing makeup. As for my dad, he encouraged me. Yes, he had a quick hand and would swat us when we misbehaved, but he encouraged me to sing and to ‘move forward with life…don’t look back.’ Those wise words taught me lots about life. I practice those words in my daily life whenever I make mistakes, or someone hurts me. I look for the sunshine in tomorrow, not the rain that has fallen around me in the past.
Papa died from Alzheimer’s Disease in the late 1980’s. The last time I saw him, he resided in a nursing home, strapped to a wheelchair, looking out the window at birds in the trees. Perhaps a metaphor for his younger days, when he was gentle and kind and loved to fish. On my last visit to see Papa, he did not know me. When I touched his shoulder to give him a hug, he screamed at me. He didn’t know me. I thought he had disowned me since he disapproved of me many years ago. Later, while working on research for a story about Alzheimer’s, I recognized the reality was, deep inside Papa’s eyes, he rejected me not because he did not love me…deep inside his brain, he didn’t know much of anything…His brain could not process that I was his granddaughter. Perhaps a hard thing to accept when we are young, rebellious and no longer the ‘apple of my grandfather’s eye.’ I’ve written about Papa many times. An award-winning screenplay titled, “Not My Papa,” is based on my grandfather’s life as a textile mill worker in Bibb City, Georgia.
My dad lost his torrential battle with esophageal cancer on July 6, 1999, while I was opening the door to his room in a nursing home. Losing my dad tore my heart out for a long time. I had difficulty understanding how the sun could set, and rise again the next morning when my dad could no longer see the sun setting. “How can life continue when I no longer have my dad…I’m an orphan without him.’
On Father’s Day, I take a moment to reflect on the significant men who helped guide me into the life I live today. My Dad…My overly-strict grandfather, and my husband. All of these men have guided me — sometimes with a controlling hand — leading me on the path to becoming the woman I am today.
I hope they are proud of me. For most of the time, my husband, Phil, says he is proud of me, although there are times I see his eyes rolling upward, as if to say, “There she goes again!”
Regardless – I would like to express how much I have cared for these men. As children, we watch the actions of our father, sometimes, they lead us to doing the same behaviors they performed on us. As wives, we watch our husbands, hopeful they are proud of us and will love us until the end of time.
Life is truly a challenge. We awaken daily, hopeful of ‘making this a good day…’ And so we live, without looking back…moving forward…making the most of each day. We hope for tomorrow, only to recognize that tomorrow might bring challenges, heartbreak, or disappointments, but we must remember to follow the words of advice our dads gave us as children. “Don’t look back on life…move forward…”
Today, I can hear my dad saying those words to me. I thank him for his wisdom and his love.
Happy Father’s Day to our Dads…and thank you for guiding us along this path of life.
There is a passage I say to myself almost daily. I suppose it is my anchor:
“Stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit…
It’s when things seem worse — you mustn’t quit!”
Happy, Happy Father’s Day!