Daddy’s Little Girl

Yesterday was my father‘s birthday, so I thought I would share a few memories I have of him from when I was little.

First and foremost, I remember what it sounded like when he got home.  He’s always come in the back door, which was a sliding door that entered into our kitchen.  Some nights, if I was already at the dinner table waiting for him, I could hear him coming up the back porch.  Other times, no matter where else I was in the house, I could hear the door slide open.   I would immediately rush into the kitchen to greet him.  I would exclaim, “Daddy! I’m glad you’re so home!”  An expression used in our house even now, many years later, and that I didn’t realize didn’t actually make any sense until I was far past the age I should have. It just became such a natural thing for me to say, even after I learned the proper placement of the word “so”, I never thought to revisit this phrase.

Apparently, when I was very small, I used to cry sometimes when my dad came home because that meant it was bedtime. I don’t remember this period of time, so I must have been pretty young and/or it must have been a short period of time, but my poor Daddy remembers it.

I remember spending the day in the park.  I don’t remember how we got there or if it was Saturdays or Sundays, but I remember I called it “The Park with the Two Green Slides”.  I don’t remember any other people ever being in the park, though I’m sure they were there. I honestly don’t even remember playing on the actual gym. I remember my father pushing me on the swings for what seemed like – and quite possibly could have been – hours.  We would swing and talk and swing until the sun went down behind the tall tree in the far corner of the park.  Then we would head home for dinner.  There isn’t one particular time that stands out to me, no particular conversation. I just remember it feeling familiar and it feeling like happiness.

I remember watching Buffy. I was ten years old and way too young to be watching this show, but I was mature for my age so people tended to forget how old I was.  Every Tuesday for years we would watch this show together. Sometimes we’d tape it [back in the day of VCRs] and watch it later, but it was our first show.  The first one that was just OURS.  My mother, though she tried, just couldn’t get into this show.  So she would go do work or go to bed and we would watch this show together – laugh together, cry together, theorize together.  I loved this show and I loved the way it connected us.

I remember going for ice cream.  Sitting on the hood of his car, enjoying our treats. Every time, towards the end of my ice cream, I would start to cough a little, since my asthma is agitated by the cold. Every time he would throw up his hands and say, “That’s it! No more ice cream for you!” and giggles would immediately replace the coughs.

I remember our walks.  Again, I don’t remember if there was a certain day we did this.  This one, though, we did often. And for years.  We would walk to my Papa’s house. We’d usually walk the same way, and I’d run ahead to the same trees and wait for him to catch up.  I’d balance on the same fences and jump over the same tree stumps.  There was one house whose front lawn was partially elevated, so the stone slabs in front of their house were tiered.  I remember when I was very little, I’d hold my dad’s hand as I climbed these tiers, then he’d lift me off the end.  Eventually, I could climb them all my self and then he’d lift me off the end.  One day all he had to do was hold my hand while I jumped off the edge.  Until finally, I was big and brave enough that I could jump off all by myself.

One thing I remember about our walks – from the first one we took, to the most recent one we took – was that he always made me walk on the inside of the sidewalk, furthest from the street.  When I was little and more wandering, I sometimes found it annoying to be zipping around and suddenly be dragged by a scrawny arm or a pigtail back to the other side of the sidewalk.  As I got older [and a little more afraid of moving cars], I saw it as it was – a form of protecting me.

When I got a little older, I was finally allowed to take my little brother on walks. First just down the street to Bill’s Deli to get slush. Eventually around the block. Whenever we’d go on walks, I’d tell him which trees he could run to where he had to wait for me.  And I always kept him on the inside of the sidewalk.

My daddy has taught me a lot.  Every ounce of patience I have comes from him.  He’s the reason I love musicals and country music.  He has taught me so much about the way things are built, about history, about people.

I am who I am because of my father.  My mother always said I had him wrapped around my finger, and I would never argue that.

I am, always have been and always will be Daddy’s little girl.

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~ by Valerie Anne on 04/06/2011.

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