Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A Letter To My Daddy



Dear R. D.,

I know to some this is a little [okay, maybe a lot] crazy, but I've wanted to write you this letter for a long time now just to share things with you that have been on my mind over the 31 years that have passed since you died. I want to begin by saying that for the 9 years that I had the honor of having you as my Daddy I am forever grateful, though sometimes I feel cheated in so many ways.

I can still remember your funeral and so many things that went through my 9 year old brain that day. I remember all the cars in the procession that trailed the limo in which I rode from the funeral home to Jefferson Barracks Veteran's Cemetary. I remember that looking out the back window, I was unable to see the end of the line of cars that followed us. Later, I heard that there were more than 200 cars in that line and even today I am amazed by the sheer number of people who thought enough of you to show up. Following the funeral, there was the repast at Robert Lee and Annie Ruth's house if I am not mistaken, and I remember me, my sister, and brothers hiding under a table with a long table cloth being mad at everybody there for "having a party" when our Daddy was dead. To this day, I have issues with attending funerals and rarely attend them or repasts unless I am in danger of offending someone I care about.

You were a really good Daddy while I had you. I was so young when you left that there are only a few true memories that remain. I remember that you rarely if ever disciplined any of us, you left that up to Moma. I remember how you used to bring us to the table and give each of us a knife and fork to use to beat on the table as we all chanted "We wanna eat...we wanna eat" to rush Moma in getting the meal on the table [Now that I'm a grown woman, I must say, "You know that was just WRONG!"]. I remember sitting on your stomach while you lay on your back watching TV and I cleaned your fingernails during my version of giving you a "manicure". I remember wanting to always be the apple of your eye and throwing a stone fit one Easter Sunday when I was about five and you tried to take a picture of Jackie without me in it. You ended up taking this picture of me crying in my Easter coat and dress...aaahhhhhh...

Everytime I hear Stevie Wonder's You Are The Sunshine Of My Life I think of you, my wonderful Daddy. Over the years, there were many times I wished you could have been here with me. Most of the time, I understood and accepted that things were the way they were, but sometimes...I felt like I felt in this picture...I WANTED MY DADDY!

The times that I missed you most occurred during my college years. My room mate was the oldest daughter of an absolutely wonderful father who adopted me as his fourth daughter once she and I became roomies. I attended church with them weekly and due to the influence of her family, I decided to get baptized in their church. As much as I loved her family and spending time at their house, seeing her with her father always sent pangs of all I was missing by not having you here through my heart.

There are so many things I wish. I wish that you had been able to watch me and my sister and brothers grow up. I wish you could have been here to share with Moma all the wonderful opportunities she had to be proud of each of us. It would have been wonderful to have you at my high school and college graduations. I would give just about anything for you to know the six grandsons (one provided by me) that you now have. For the privelege of your point of view on some of the issues and obstacles I have faced, and your input on raising Ryan, I would have traded just about anything.

I often wonder in what ways I would be different if you had not had to leave me so soon. I know for sure that some of the guys I dated would have been run off long before the first date ever happened as your plan to keep me and Jackie in the house until we were in our 30's is the stuff of legends ;-) I'm often told that I'm very smart and I always reply that because I come from two brilliant people I can't help it! I see so clearly the impact having been my mother's daughter has had on me, but I often wish you could have been around longer so that I could have gotten to know you and subsequently myself better as well. What character traits do I have as a result of being your daughter I wonder? How did your death change me for better or worse? These are the questions I may never be able to answer.

You'll be happy to know that I am a "glass half-full" person, and as such, I have decided that there is a silver lining even in the cloud that is your early departure from my life. I have a girlfriend who has never been able to have a successful long-term relationship with a man because she is convinced that her father's decision to abandon his family when she was a small child has doomed her to be a failure when it comes to men. She believes that since her father didn't love her enough to stick around, and she didn't have him around as she was growing up to learn from, she can't possibly expect any other man to stick. I tell her that her ideas are nonsense as I didn't have a father around either but I don't buy into this bull. She says that you did not leave me by choice so its different; to which I respond, "Not here is not here!" I can't buy into her misery because I know better than this. The "gift" of your going while I was still so young but old enough to realize how very much you loved me, is that I now believe that I am entitled to the best a man hoping to be my partner has to offer. Afterall, if a girl doesn't get to keep her Daddy around as long as she needs him, shouldn't she get the next best thing...a partner who is ready, willing, and able to step in and finish the job of loving her that her Daddy started?

Having recently started this blog, I have been welcomed into the lives of so many people via their blogs. Wandering around the internet, I stumbled upon the blog of "sarccastik" a dedicated married father of a young daughter. Reading his posts about the joy and pride he feels as he raises his baby daughter reminded me of the stories Moma tells me about how much you wanted her to have a girl when she was pregnant with me and how once I was born, you had me moved to the front of the nursery at the hospital so that you could see me as you passed the nursery window while carrying out your work duties as you worked for the hospital in which I was born. Short as the time we had together was, it still produced wonderful memories as well as an awareness of exactly how special I was to you.

So thank you to my Daddy R.D. for giving me a great introduction to what being loved by the opposite sex is supposed to feel like [at least the parts that matter most!]. I hope I make you proud and though you're not here, I carry you always in my heart. Love Always, Your Firstborn Daughter, Sharon

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

This was really beautiful Tete! I can't ever read stuff about fathers without getting all emotional and teary eyed cause you know I am the most pitiful daddy's girl on the planet! My eyes get watery just THINKING about it!

But I really enjoyed this entry. You couldn't be more brilliant if you tried.

Serenity23 said...

Sharon,
I don't think you're crazy for writing this. I do think you're crazy for that photo, but uh... (Ok, don't kill me.). I think my best writing comes from reflections on how things in my childhood have developed me into this woman that I am today. I wasn't fortunate to have my father in my life at all, so I can feel your pain on wishing he was there and wondering how things would be different if he was there. This post is very reflective and makes us ask those hard questions, that we can never really answer.

Sharon said...

@ Anonymous,
Carmz, you are my biggest fan, and with you around my head gets so inflated its a wonder I can still enter buildings with standard sized doors. Thank you as always for pumping up your Tete!

And you're right, you are without a doubt the biggest Daddy's Girl I've ever seen...rotten, just spoiled rotten! ;)

@ Serenity23,
I knew you of all of my new friends would feel this post. We are so much alike in our acceptance of the idea that all things leave some type of imprint on us; and I don't think I've met anyone else besides you who is as self-examining as I am.

Now regarding the pic...I was then, as I am now, a FASHIONISTA my sista [as was my Daddy...so back up off the dashiki since this was considered the pinnacle of fashion in 1973 when this picture was taken--LOL]...okay so I'm not a fashionista but it sounds good ;-)

And before you even think of going there, I don't want to hear a single word about your not even having been born in 1973!

DP said...

That is an amazing post. I lost my father right before I was 30 after growing up without him and now I find myself following in his footsteps on many levels. Hearing those words make me wonder what my two young sons are saying about me now, while I live 1400 miles away from them and exist as money and the occasional short phone call in between whirlwind weekend visits. You have encouraged me to keep pressing to build those memories even as they are intermittent.

DJ Diva brought me here and I thank her for putting you on blast.

I shall return

Sharon said...

@ dp,
WOW! When I was writing this post, at no time did I consider that someone reading my blog would take away what you outlined in your comment. I was writing a tribute to my father and in my mind that was the extent of things.

To think that something I wrote affected someone such that they decided to actively work to strengthen their relationship with their children simply knocks my socks off b/c I have so enjoyed being raised by my parents as well as raising my own son.

At the risk of sounding "preachy" for which I apologize, don't let this feeling pass without acting on it. Use this wonderful internet thing to eliminate the 1400 physical miles that separate you and your sons and essentially relocate them right next door by staying in regular, even daily contact over the web. Create the memories you all would have had if you lived in the same home by sending them age-appropriate "kits" [packages sent by mail that provide the essential tools necessary to teach a skill or task that fathers typically teach their sons...for example, "How To Properly Shave The Black Man's Face", "How To Impress A Girl On The First Date", "How To Build A Pinewood Derby Car" (if they are boyscouts)]. As my son's father was never a part of his life, he missed so many opportunities to connect with my son. Never having married, I tried to find creative ways to make sure my son learned from a man (usually one of my brothers) how to be a man and do what men do ;) I even built Pinewood Derby cars and for 4 years was the only Mom seriously into the races! Don't let someone else have all the wonderful moments with your sons that you as their father are entitled to!

Now I'll stop blogging in my own comments and once again, my apologies but your comment just made my day :) Thank You!

DP said...

Itake your advice in the spirit intended...i look forward to reporting my results.

LadyLee said...

Sharon, this was a wonderful way of remembering your father... It was quite touching...

My father is still alive, but I've had no contact with him... He and my mother divorced when I was 2, and my mother has always degraded him, so my view of him has always been negative. I found out a few years ago that much of what she said was not true. I got up the nerve to call him a couple of years ago, but nothing came of it. But your post encourages me to try again...

Again... good post...

Sharon said...

@ Ladylee,
Wanna hear something funny, today I had to go away and think about it before I could respond to your comment...

Family is sssoooooooo important to me that I would say by all means, contact your father again. I realize there is some anguish you may never be able to put aside re: the past, but the opportunity exists to change things! Not having gone through this experience personally, I can only say that even though my son's father has never participated in his life [his decision, not mine and we always got alone great...even after my son's birth we just drifted apart, no big scenes], I would encourage it if it ever came to pass that they decided to pursue a relationship. Afterall, some part of you came from his genetic depository and that means there is NO WAY he can be all bad...Final Answer: open yourself up unless he gives you a reason to do otherwise; some people just take longer to realize what they are missing out on than others do.

I know it may not work out, but imagine if it does...

DJ Diva said...

ok someone said my name?

this post made me think about my real father...i think i'll finally call him again....thanks Sharon....

DJ Diva said...

oh and hey David...I'm glad you came over!!!!

James Manning said...

Wow, this is a great post. I didn't have my father around for the first part of my life, except on weekend visites. Then as I got older I spent more time with him. He's a good man and he's been around for the last 27 years of my life. But there is more time and more memories to create.

Safa said...

What a beautiful letter! My sister was 9 when my mother died ( I was 16) and I think about how young she was and what memories she has. Ya know, we talk and she has such vivid memories of things I don't even remember! Your dad will be forever with you.