My parents married way too young - for them - and they split up when I was eight. My mother wound up working two hours away and we moved and then she was transferred and we were four hours away. I loved the small town that Daddy and Momma grew up in and I loathed having to leave it. I always (and still do) long to return. I used to go stay with my maternal grandmother - who lived and worked there still - every chance I got. When my mother had to go to California to work during a telephone worker strike I got to live there for four months or so. I would have happily stayed.
For I was much more like my Daddy than my mother.
From him I got my stubbornness, my tenacity, my love of the outdoors and sports and music. Daddy and I could always tell a song by the opening notes. Music was so important to both of us - we could 'feel' what the song was about. I have his record collection and I love to listen to the vinyl records. I close my eyes and I'm sitting with him and my step mom on the porch of 'The House' (his parents place that he inherited on their death) on a summer's evening as the twilight crept over the land.
And though I got my absolute love of sports from him I did not get his ability. I can't walk and chew gum at the same time. Daddy was a scratch golfer - every day he'd hit a huge bucket of balls. He would have been playing golf the day he died if there hadn't been a tropical storm headed our way.
We didn't know how to bridge that gap the years had created. I think he was scared of me and I know I was a bit scared of him. Not because he was scary - he wasn't - underneath that sometimes gruff exterior was a shy tender hearted man. I'm not sure he felt comfortable around many people even though he was one of thirteen kids.
His death was sudden and shocking and I'm not sure I've really forgiven God for it. I see him in my kids - he would have enjoyed the boys - at a distance perhaps - but he would have gotten such a kick out of their antics.
My Middle would have been Papa's best buddy.
He too is shy and tender hearted beneath a gruff exterior. He loves the outdoors and is a golfer. He has the talent that skipped me entirely. He would have shared Daddy's gift of silences - just happy to be with him. He'd of tagged along everywhere and anywhere and Daddy's pride in Middle's golf skills would have been boundless.
I can see Daddy's face light up as Oldest plays the piano - that music he loved so much. Hear him laugh and shake his head at how smart Youngest is - how sure of himself he is.
Me standing - as a toddler - in front of 'The House' and Daddy's favorite car - 'The Fugitive'. (A Ford Galaxy with a Shelby Mustang engine in it)
I got Daddy's strong opinions too. And I miss having him here to rant with. We didn't do it often but I'm more comfortable with me now and I think I understand him better. I could use with a good old gripe session on the front porch and someone agreeing with me and getting as riled up as I do about it.
I've done the long goodbye that wasn't that long, really, and I've had someone snatched away that I felt like I really didn't appreciate or understand while he was here.
And it still hurts....