Daddy gave me wings

Published 7:55 pm Friday, June 17, 2022

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Daddy’s heart stopped beating on Father’s Day 1983.

So, for me “Happy Father’s Day” is an oxymoron.

Losing a parent leaves a void in your life that can never be filled. But memories have a way of sifting down into that hole and keeping it from being quite so deep and so dark.

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Around Father’s Day each year, I fall back on memories of Daddy in an effort to sift sand into that hole.

Growing up, Daddy was my ally.

Mama’ apron strings were made of cable steel. There was no cutting them or even loosening them. She saw danger in anything and everything. Daddy saw danger in nothing.

As a ten-year-old, my greatest “want” was to jump off the high dive at the swimming pool on the hill in Brundidge.  Mama said, “No!” Daddy said, “Sure, go ahead but, if you break your neck, don’t tell your mama.”

That’s the way I grew up, with Mama saying, “No!” and Daddy saying, “Go ahead, just don’t tell your Mama.”

When I graduated from high school, my greatest desire was to go out West, somewhere near Montana where I was born.

It was Daddy who helped me get a job at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.  Mama said my going trapesing off like that would take ten years off her life. Daddy just grunted and said, “Go.”

If it had not been for Daddy, I probably would never had left the confines of the house and would have lived the life of spinster with my days spent winding strings into balls.

But, Daddy understood. So, he let me go. He gave me wings.

Looking back, I know that Daddy had wings, too. He knew when to fly and when to come back down to earth.

Daddy was a pilot during World War II. When he came home, he flew small planes for a while. But, after an emergency landing in a soggy peanut field during a lightning and rain storm, Daddy decided to keep his feet on the ground.

“I’ve been everywhere I wanted to go and seen everything I wanted to see,” Daddy would say when we tried to get him to go somewhere, anywhere.

“Y’all go on,” he would say. “I’ll be here watching ‘Perry Mason.’”

He was content to be a husband and a father.

Knowing Daddy was there at home in his recliner enjoying a bowl of ice cream gave me a warm, secure feeling.

Daddy went about life in his quiet way. He didn’t say much but we always knew he cared. He had ways of showing love. Often, the love was expressed with a little paper bag filled with penny candy, or a pat on the head.

But most often, it was with a wink of the eye and the assurance to, “Go ahead. Just don’t tell your Mama.”

I did and I didn’t.

Thanks, Daddy, for giving me wings.

Happy Father’s Day.