Sometimes we just need to take a deep breath and relax a minute - give ourselves time to remember the good times and to stop and smell the roses. As I write this week's commentary I am thinking of - Father's Day!
Now I will give you that my father was not the greatest - but I thought he was. He wasn't the tallest, the strongest or certainly the most handsome - but I looked up to him with eyes filled with wonder and adoration. But what does a little kid know anyway?
My father passed away in 1992, on Feb. 29 no less. He always did things that were sometimes a little out of the ordinary. He was involved in a train-car accident as a young boy and suffered a horrific eye injury resulting in his wearing an eye patch as a young man. I can still see him in my mind - he was handsome and that dark patch made him look a little mysterious - the thought of him makes me smile. I often worry that he didn't know how much I loved him or how important his words to me were. You see, Daddy had a way with words.
Isn't that the way Daddys are? Don't they tell us things that we find to be a little too hard to understand, only to discover later that they were right all along? Mothers, on the other hand, their word is gospel. When Mother told me something, I listened and obeyed - Daddys sometimes have it tough - especially when dealing with daughters. And, that is another thing, Daddy was always Daddy, but don't you dare call Mother anything but "Mother."
Daddy wasn't home a lot. He was a preacher and it seemed that there was always a church somewhere that needed him, so off he would go. He would return eventually with a lot of fanfare and flamboyance. I can remember times when we would awaken and run downstairs only to see a stalk of bananas hanging in the doorway of the great room - that's just the way he was - one little bunch of bananas wasn't enough.He liked to try new and different things, the unusual vegetable or fruit, like eggplant or pomegranates. Moving to a new town was a mere adventure to him, an opportunity for a new beginning, and there were plenty of new beginnings.
Daddy wasn't afraid of anything; at least that is what I thought as a child growing up. I never saw him cry, but I heard him laugh plenty. He didn't drink or swear, but he liked his coffee and cigarettes. He smoked Pall Mall cigarettes and drank Folgers coffee by the coffee pot full.
Daddy grew up in Russellville, Ky. He was a liberal! There was not one ounce of prejudice or bias in his body. He knew Martin Luther King Jr., and surely believed in Dr. King's fight for civil rights. He did not see the color of a man's skin, but rather looked for the good in their character.
Since most of my childhood and young adulthood took place in Florida I didn't think too much about the Civil War as it related to Rebels versus Yankees, and honestly didn't think he did either, until one evening when he was visiting with my husband, Richard and me.
Richard and I lived in St. Petersburg Beach, Fla., and Daddy came to visit. He had met Richard before, but this was the first time he would actually be staying in our home for an extended period of time. As we sat out on the patio one evening, drinking coffee and watching the porpoise swim in the distance he turned to me and with the most serious tone of voice said, "honey I like that boy, but he's a YANKEE!" We sat in silence for some time after that statement, and we never mentioned it again.
Yes, Daddys are special. It doesn't matter whether or not they are the tallest, the smartest, the strongest or the best looking; they are still the ones that we fear when Mother tells us, "just wait until your Daddy gets home." They are still the ones we look to when we are frightened and still the ones who we know we can win over with just a smile.
When Daddy passed away, 20 years ago now, a part of me went with him. But I know that he is in a better place, a place of happiness and without pain. And, of course he is with our Father in Heaven, the greatest Father of all.
Albeit somewhat late, to my husband, Richard, and to all fathers, here's hoping you had a truly great day.
Vicki Westling is a Dunkirk resident. Send comments to email@example.com