Daddy’s girl

It was the day of our granddaughter’s baptism and I lay stretched out next to her on her parents’ bed, watching her sleep, mesmerized by her perfect smallness and amused by her squeaky little snores. How strong her grip was on my finger, I marveled.

Much stronger than the day she was born.

Then came the call, pulling us from the celebration of new life to where its thread was beginning to unravel.

I stood by the hospital bed, gazing at the man who lay there, wondering how he could be so frail and still be my dad, concerned by the subtle wheeze in his breathing. How strong his grip was on my hand, I marveled.

Much stronger than I had expected.

Were these claw-like hands and thin arms really the same rugged ones that swung a hammer to build a playhouse? Were the lips obscured by the oxygen mask really the same that forever held a pipe in one corner and an easy grin in the other? How could the unsteady shuffling feet of recent years be the same as those whose purposeful stride had me shadowing his every step?

I’m standing in the garage as the summer breeze wafts between the two doors, large and small, the smell of mown grass tingeing the air a vibrant green and mixing with the pungent scents of fresh cut pine and cherry tobacco. The methodical play by play of a baseball game emanates from the radio on a shelf above my reach and sawdust carpets the concrete floor beneath my feet.

Near me stands my dad.

His soft faded work clothes hang comfortably on his slender frame and the brim of his fishing hat is turned up in the back – fedora style – adding a debonair touch to the stained canvas.

I watch as he tidies up his work area, sorting nails and screws into baby food jars and returning tools to their designated place on the pegboard that spans the wall. His work bench de-cluttered, he takes a foxtail brush off its hook and begins to sweep the surface, the thin trail of smoke from his pipe shifting and curling as it wafts skyward to settle in an ethereal cloud above his head.

I don’t remember doing much more than just being there. But just being there with him was always enough.

Enough to put summer and baseball at the top of my favorites list. Enough to cause the poignant scents from those times to trigger sweet memories on countless occasions over the next half-century.

He taught me the foxtrot by taking me in his arms and letting me place my feet on top of his. He passed on to me a love of cats and books and movies and history and a conviction that everyone has something interesting to say – all you have to do is strike up a conversation with them. He led more by example than by words, taking our family to church every Sunday and faithfully serving there as an usher.

Most importantly, he accepted me exactly as I was, never comparing me to anyone else or asking why I wasn’t different. If our concept of God is formed by our earthly father, my Heavenly One must love me very much.

“Are you going to hold my hand all night?” he asks, with a twinkle in his hazel eyes.

“If you want me to,” I reply with a ready smile.

He lets go of my fingers and I lean in to kiss his forehead.

“Love you, Daddy,” I say, wondering when and why I ever stopped calling him that. “We’re praying for you.”

I turn away with his thank you, cherishing his sweet smile.

And praising God for the assurance that we’ll meet again in Heaven someday.

“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering,
and the time for my departure is near.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race,
I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me
the crown of righteousness, which the Lord,
the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day –
and not only to me, but also to all who have longed
for his appearing.”
2 Timothy 4:6-8

See: Miss you, Daddy

© 2012 Susan M. Zanone

3 thoughts on “Daddy’s girl

  1. Pingback: Miss you, Daddy | My Creator's Lens:

  2. Pingback: Miss you, Daddy | My Creator's Lens:

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