Sunday, May 8, 2011
My sisters and brothers always called me “Daddy’s Girl” and for the life of me I can’t figure out why. I was the 2nd youngest of six children, having three older brothers an older and a younger sister. So I was the middle daughter. How that made me “Daddy’s Girl” is beyond me.
Truthfully, I think my oldest sister was “Daddy’s Girl” after all she was the first girl. It would only make sense. Of course my younger sister by four years and the baby of the family, as well as the youngest daughter, was also a favorite of my dad’s.
For some reason, they all thought I was his favorite. I honestly don’t think Dad had a favorite. He yelled at us all equally, and I don’t think he spoiled any of us more than the other.
Dad’s been gone for eleven years now, and I still miss him, but he’ll always live in my memory. He worked hard as a tile setter and it took its toll on his knees and his back through the years. He spent the last three years of his life in a nursing home flat on his back, but there wasn’t a thing wrong with his mind. It was hard watching him those last three years. For a man so vital and so physical all his life to end up that way seemed cruel. He lived a hard life and died a hard death.
One my favorite memories of dad is him coming home from work, carrying his lunch pail. My sisters and I ran out to meet him and one of us got to carry it in. There was always something inside, an apple, orange or maybe bakery. Of course we had to share. On Fridays, Dad always stopped at the bakery and brought home fresh bread, straight from the oven.
We didn't go on vacations. With six children to raise, my parents couldn't afford it. But, in the summer we went on picnics every night, weather permitting. Mom had the picnic basket and cooler packed and ready for when Dad came home. While we loaded the car, he cleaned up and changed his clothes and off we went to the Metro parks. We always went to the same spot called Lagoon.
While we gathered twigs and sticks to start a fire in the grill – no charcoal or charcoal lighter for us – Mom and Dad scrunched up some newspaper and prepared the grill while they talked about their day. A baseball game usually ensued while we waited for the fire to burn down. Often my aunt, uncle and their four kids joined us, so we had two pretty good-size teams.
I only remember once that my dad hit me. But yell, oh could he yell. If Mom told us to do something, she’d better not have to tell us more than twice if Dad was around. When he got angry the two veins on his forehead between his eyebrows stuck out. It used to scare the bejeebers out of me. I always thought they were going to burst. So I seldom made him mad. I mean what the heck, if Mom said do something, why not just get up and do it? Why make her mad and risk Dad getting angry too?
Maybe that’s why they called me “Daddy’s Girl”. I seldom incurred his wrath. It just wasn’t worth it. Besides, Mom’s anger was bad enough. She’s the one who smacked you if you talked back and seldom did she have to tell any of us more than twice, whether Dad was home or not. It wasn’t unusual for her to suddenly be standing behind you and give you a good swift smack.
Ah, the joys of childhood and the memories that will live on in my mind. There are so many stories I can tell about my parents, and maybe someday I’ll write them down for my children. Life was simpler then and it was good.