Posted in Daddy, family

Daddy’s Gift

One year ago today, my sister called me to tell me our Daddy had just passed away. I can’t relate what the next months felt like to me. It’s one of those things that is unique to everyone who goes through it.

It was a bit sudden, and my sister was driving over to get Mom from the rehab hospital where she’d been for a few months when it happened. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that helpless before. I never want to again.

old personal pic 1954
Daddy in 1954. How handsome!

This isn’t a sad post, though. This is actually about a gift Daddy gave me through something he did afterwards. What do you mean, “afterwards”? you might be asking. Well, let me tell you a true story.

A few days or so after Daddy died, Mom was in her room at the rehab place. She was sitting on her bed, eating her dinner, when she heard something out in the hall, like a knock or something drop to the floor. She looked up, and there was no one outside. Her gaze fell on something next to the bathroom door, however. A pair of black shoes with feet in them. Khaki pants, the legs going up to just past the knees, and then sort of fading away into a mist. She saw this for quite a few moments that evening, but no matter how many times she watched that spot in the days to come, she never saw it again.

Mom told me this about a week later, prefacing it with: “I’ve told some others about this, but they poo-poohed it. But I know what I saw.” After she told me, I asked her who she thought it might have been. “Your father, of course!” Mom sounded about as happy and relieved as she could, considering the circumstances. She did tell me at least one of the people who didn’t believe her, and I can see that. I think it might have not jived with what that lady believed. That’s fine – I know Mom did see what she saw, and I know it was Daddy.

How? Well, Mom never was one to watch things like Ghost Hunters or Ghost Adventures or anything. She never read books like that, and neither did Daddy. If this was a product of her imagination, she would have seen Daddy’s head, face, shoulders. She would have seen his whole body, perhaps. Her imagination would never have produced Daddy’s feet and calves. I know some people will still “poo-pooh” this, but I have complete faith in what Mom saw that evening.

Daddy gave me, through visiting Mom, the assurance that there really is life after this one. That we don’t just cease to exist. Sure, I believed that before, but to have this happen with my parents (and Mom would never, ever make up a story like this, either), just proved it to me even more.

And talk about love – Daddy hung around to wait for Mom, who followed him exactly nine weeks later.

While I am still hurting over not having them around and just a phone call away, I am so glad they are together again, and honestly grateful that Mom didn’t have to go through their birthdays (I am sandwiched between them in August) and the holidays without Daddy.

Dad and Syd 5th brthday
Daddy and me at Grandma’s house on my birthday, 1973
Posted in Daddy, family, photos, Thursday Thankfuls

Thursday Thankfuls: Being My Daddy’s Daughter

For two months I didn’t write in this blog. I didn’t because there was a post that would need to be written first, and I couldn’t bring myself to write it.

Near the end of February, my Daddy passed away after coming down with pneumonia about five days before. He was only 77. Just a week before he’d told me on the phone that he’d be here for my wedding – he planned on living ’til he was at least 90.

I know this isn’t Thursday, but you’ll ignore that little faux pas, right? 🙂 Because I have always been thankful my Daddy is my Daddy, and that I’m his first-born daughter.

He played with chemistry sets with me, even while Mom gritted her teeth, wondering if we’d blow up the house or create noxious fumes that would make everyone sick. He helped me build my first model – the Lunar lander, and my second model – the B-29 Superfortress. (I loved that thing!) He had his big microscope and would set up my small microscope (a real one, not a kid’s toy) next to it and show me cells and things between the glass plates. He would set up the telescope in the backyard and show my little sister and me the moon and the planets in the Oklahoma skies, and repeatedly adjust the focus because the Earth never stands still.

One early, early morning in 1986, Daddy woke me up and got me into the car, curlers in my hair and all, and drove us out past Piedmont and into the country. I remember him getting out of the car and looking up, pointing into the sky and trying to get me out of the car. I stayed in my seat because it was cold and I was half-asleep, but I did see what he was pointing at – Halley’s Comet was overhead. We shared a love of space things, from the lunar landing in December, 1968 (I upstaged the astronauts by “discovering” my hands as a baby right then), to the Voyager launches, and the first Space Shuttle launch, as well as all sorts of science fiction shows. When I would babble on about extra-terrestrials as a kid, he would listen and tell me “I don’t see why not”.

I remember being around three years old in Minnesota, and standing in his basement darkroom. Plastic trays filled with developer chemicals and water were on the counter, exposed film and drying photographs hung neatly from a line overhead. Dad was focusing another photo on some paper with the machine that always looked to me like part of an elephant’s trunk. The chemicals made the room smell metallic in a way, but I loved it. When we moved to Oklahoma, he would set up his darkroom equipment in the kitchen at night, and pull a dining chair over so I could stand on the seat and help him swish the developing photos in the solutions with the huge rubber-tipped tongs. By this time I had already outgrown the small Kodak Instamatic camera I’d been given when I was five, and had my own Kodak to match my parents’ Konica cameras. It was heavy, but I loved it! He had his own camera shop for awhile – I can even point out where it was to this day, and then he had his own photography school for a couple years.

My Daddy was the only one who really understood why I wanted to live in Los Angeles, and why I had no qualms about moving to Ohio. He understood that I don’t just want to take little trips every now and then, but I want to live different places, experience different things. He lived all over the world in the 50s as part of the US Air Force Photography Corps. He jumped out of planes that were going down (and nearly got killed when his parachute didn’t want to open in Japan!) and saw all sorts of things. When he worked in Houston for a television station, he met The Beatles and filmed some of the last footage of President Kennedy, the day before he was killed.

So many things I never got to know about him, but so many things I did know, and that he understood about me. I was supposed to be born on his birthday, even, but decided to come exactly a week early – maybe that’s why we understood each other.

 

1940 1941 Daddy Babe Ruth
Daddy at about 3 years old with Babe Ruth in Hot Springs (or Little Rock), Arkansas. About 1941.

 

1955-56 Dad USAF_Crop
In the USAF, either 1955 or 1956. My Daddy was a flyboy! 🙂

 

old personal pic 1954
1954 in Little Rock, Arkansas. We both have the habit of carrying cameras with us!

 

Dad and Syd 5th brthday
At my maternal grandmother’s house in Oklahoma City on my 5th birthday (August 10, 1973), bringing me my cake. And yeah – I look a lot like him. 🙂