Friday, June 17, 2011

Father Images

Sunday is Father’s Day, and I miss my daddy, even though this is our eighth Father's Day without him. But I have so many images of him in my internal memory book. Many of them I included in this prose poem I wrote when he was still alive. He would have been the first to say he wasn’t perfect, but he loved his children deeply. And he showed--and spoke--his love.
He belonged to a generation that left young children largely in the mother's care, as they did most domestic tasks. He was an exception. My sister, my brother and I have dear memories of time we spent with him, fishing, walking, reading, or just being; and although only the oldest grand can remember him, all of them know Gramps's special dishes--tomato gravy, hoe cakes, and peanut butter cake.  I couldn’t think of a better way to say how blessed I was to have him than with this Father’s Day gift.

Father Images: A Prose Poem

My father laughs loudly at bad jokes and drinks beer furtively. He believes in God and FDR and Willie Nelson. He drives a black pickup with a gun rack across the rear window and reads Westerns by Louis L’Amour. He knows real men work hard, protect their women, and never cry.

I remember when I cut my foot, and he held me on the way to the hospital. The blood was bright as hair ribbons, and I was scared. And Daddy said, “Go ahead and scream, honey”—even though I was seven and a big girl. I remember when I had the wreck, and his arm was gentle around my shoulders. The lights were whirling red, and I wanted it all to wind backwards. And Daddy said, “The car don’t matter. You’re ok”—even though I was eighteen and had known how to read STOP for long years. I remember when Ken died, and the pain was white hot inside, and I was far away. And Daddy said, “It’ll be all right, baby; it’ll be all right”—even though I was twenty-two and too old to believe in magic.

Now he sits with hands strangely clean, watching reruns on TV and planning the garden he’ll plant come spring. When I leave him, he still says, “Behave yourself” and “Do you have enough money?”

What are your favorite images of your dad or other father figure in your life?


PJ said...

Janga, what a lovely tribute to your daddy. Sounds like he was a very special man.

Seven years ago this week we got the news of my dad's terminal cancer diagnosis. He died four months later and not a day goes by that I don't think of him. As the first born and only girl, we had a very special bond. He was my champion in all things and just the thought of him brings a smile to my heart.

One special memory is of him going toe-to-toe with our very conservative town librarian over my right as a 13 year old to read "adult" books by Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart. He won. :)

MsHellion said...

My daddy says that: "Behave yourself" and "Do you have enough money?" (well, he doesn't ask the latter so much anymore. *LOL* But if I needed it, he'd be the first to pony up.)

Your prose poem made me cry. Daddys are the best.


quantum said...

Lovely tribute Janga

Mrs Q brought a slice of cake home from church today.
I thought it must be for Father's Day after reading your prose poem, but no. Trinity Church had been celebrating Trinity Sunday!

I am a Father but have never received (or given) a Father's Day gift.
Here in the UK it doesn't have the same buzz as Mother's Day which is tied to Mothering Sunday.

On Father figures, I did rather idolize my school sports master if that counts.
He devoted many hours to coaching me and was very much a role model until about 15yrs.
Then my academic fascination with science kicked in and it was famous scientists that I worshiped.

My real Dad was OK as well! *smile*

irisheyes said...

What an awesome poem for your daddy, Janga. I hope he got to read it.

My dad has been gone 14 years this July 21st. We had a pretty strained relationship while I was growing up but I still think about him often and miss him. Thanks to my DH (who is a totally awesome daddy!) I came to a place of peace with him before he left this world - a gift that I will forever be grateful for.

One of my favorite memories of him is when he sat me down the week before I was to move to California and told me how proud he was of me and the choices I'd made in my life. Very out of character for him which made it all the more special.

Janga said...

Thanks, PJ. I love the story of your dad standing up for your reading rights. How blessed we are to have memories that continue to light up our hearts and our lives.

Janga said...

I wonder where that phrase came from, Hellie. Those words were a steady refrain throughout our lives--from the time we were very small until we were all counting our gray hairs.

I hope you have a wonderful Father's Day with your dad. I'm sending him wishes for a happy day.

Janga said...

Q, we'll all pretend the cake was a Father'd Day gift. :)

I don't think Father's Day is quite as big as Mother's Day here either, at least in terms of cards purchased,flowers sent, and restaurant meals ordered. But it was always a big day for our family. When we were growing up, we always had a big family dinner at my maternal grandparents' home, and my grandmother, mother, and aunts made certain the favorite foods of Papa, Daddy, and my uncles were on the table. So in my memories, Mother's Day and Father's Day always rank just slightly below Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter as major family celebrations.

Janga said...

Thanks, Irish. Daddy did read the poem. He had a real sentimental streak and always liked the cards and notes we wrote him as much as the gifts.

I know you cherish that special moment with your dad. I think the need to know our parents' approve of us and take pride in us is deeply rooted in most of us. I have friends who still struggle because they feel they never received that affirmation.

TerriOsburn said...

This nearly did me in. Beautiful, Janga.

Janga said...

Thanks, Terri! I'm always a bit hesitant about posting something so personal. It makes it worth the risk to know the poem touched someone.