Dr. Meg Meeker wrote an article entitled, “Your Daughter Needs a Hero,” in which she discusses how fathers can help their daughters. Girls need an authority figure, protector, a hero. For some of us, our hero unwillingly left us much too soon. I was four years old when I lost my twenty-eight year old father to a heart attack. The loss has affected me all my life. When other girls were going places with their dads or their dad chased a boy or two away, or greeted a date at the door before allowing his daughter out, my Dad’s body lay in a grave in a small cemetery by a country church. Although he’s been absent, my Daddy has been and still is a huge influence in my life.
My memories of my Daddy are few, but precious. I can remember him being on the stage of the auditorium of a local school, which is now a private school. We were sitting in the car with Mama, and I turned and looked toward the building as Mama was driving off. He was standing there on the stage, smiling, and singing. Years later, when Kim was little and appeared in Kindergarten plays on the same stage. I remember telling Dan my Daddy was on that same stage singing some thirty years before.
A snapshot in my memories is of him and Mama joking around. Another flash is of my cousin Carolyn and I drinking chocolate milk in the car while watching our Dads walking back from fishing at a local pond. If there’s a fishing gene, it’s in our DNA.
On a fall day while playing in the yard with my cousins at their house, we headed toward the front door. My Aunt Sarah stopped us at the door, and I caught a glimpse of my Daddy lying on the sofa. He appeared to be sick. Aunt Sarah came outside with her camera and took pictures of us, I believe, to keep us occupied and away from the house. She took us around back, and as I turned around, I saw my Uncle William and a neighbor helping him to the car. I never saw my Daddy alive again.
Those are the only memories I have, but I am grateful for them.
I don’t remember this scene, but Mama said it happened not long after Daddy died. She found me crying while sitting in a swing of the swing set Daddy put together for us not long before he died. She asked me, “What’s wrong? Why are you crying?” She said I replied, “I don’t want my Daddy to be dead.”
A few years later, while looking at some photos of him, I asked Mama to name somebody my Daddy looked like. She told me he favored Marlon Brando, the Brando of the 50’s, so I searched through movie star magazines, no internet back in those days, of course, to find pictures of a young Brando. I compared them to the few photos I have of Daddy, and sure enough, my Daddy favored him.
Mama instilled his love of music in us. Daddy was one of those fortunate people who could teach themselves to play music, like the acoustic guitar, steel guitar, Mandolin, most anything with strings, and sing. His talent came from God. He and some of his close friends formed a band that played at different functions around the area. Years later, whenever I ran into any of them around town, they reminisced about Daddy, telling me what a likable, talented, and witty guy he was. Mama kept his memory alive, and these good gentlemen helped her with that task. They have no idea how much I appreciate their sharing their memories with me.
I think if Daddy had lived and because I love him and loves me, we would’ve compromised on the music. He was a true, straight to the bone, Country and Western music enthusiast. No, he didn’t like the Beatles, and no, I don’t particularly care for most Country music. Mama said he used to tease my cousin Edna about the mophead boys from Liverpool during the early days of Beatlemania. Yet, I think he would’ve loved The Beatles’ “Don’t Pass Me By” from their album The Beatles, aka The White Album— a sweet little song with Jack Fallon’s fine fiddle playing and a sweet mixture of Country & Western and a bluesy melody. He would’ve picked it out on his guitar, no need for sheet music because he played everything by ear, we would’ve learned the words, and maybe even me playing the guitar a little. I can see us now, singing, laughing, having fun. If only…
I’ve wondered why God took my Daddy so young, and what our lives would’ve been like, with the exception of my older sister who died as an infant, our family intact and together. Though missing from most of my life, my Daddy has always been and will always be my hero. I love you, Daddy, and I’ll see ya again someday. Oh, the music we’ll sing and play when that day comes.
© Dee Hardy | Encouraging the Discouraged, 2015. All rights reserved