Sunday, June 20, 2010

All My Dads

Father’s Day is for me a time of remembering the men who watched over me during my life time. I was Dad’s shadow. He taught me of nature, of animals, of life cycles of both. He taught me to fish and to work on the farm. He had a wonderful smile and a musical laugh. His blue eyes sparkled and he sang like an angel. He was a loving father and grandfather.

On the farm, we are all one family. The mothers mothered all of us as did the dads. When my father died, Brenda’s dad, Hollie, came to me and told me he would be my daddy now. I wondered for a moment if he knew that he had always been a daddy to me. I was honored and knew how deeply he loved me….how deeply we both shared the loss.

On each visit home, I know that Victor, another neighbor, will greet me with the arms of a loving parent. Not all that many years ago, Victor’s heart was once more struggling to keep him alive. I sat on the edge of his bed, both of us in tears, begging him to fight for his life. I had just lost the above two fathers and could not lose one more. When I was home in April, he wrapped me up in loving arms and kissed this daughter of Neff Road.

My brother-in-laws were very good at watching over a younger sis. My sister was divorced from Bob. I had been going through a terrible time in my marriage and was separating from my then husband. No longer part of our family, Bob called me to see if I was okay. We talked of difficult lives and transitions, of old times and of missing. Little did I know that would be the last time we spoke before a heart attack took him.

Paul, my other brother-in-law, has teased me and cared for me since I was around twelve. I always knew that Paul would protect me and be there if any of us ever needed anything. He was the brother I never had. He made my parents his and loves all of the grandchildren with a heart full of love.

Working in the fields with the neighbor men gave me even more dads. My cousin, Gene, was a dear friend. He and I were close when I was a tot and he in the army. I adored him. He taught me to plant tobacco and to drive a tractor. He loved our family dearly and all of us were his sisters. I spent three days with my widowed cousin in his big rambling house. We stayed up late talking of family and old times. We ate at Maid Rite where I had a beer with my two sandwiches. He chuckled at his grown up niece. I sat watching him play poker….turned out not to be his lucky charm. It was a time I treasure.

Bub and Horner worked in the tobacco fields with me when I was a teen. We laughed and teased and became good friends. Many were the men who were part of my growing up, part of my life on Neff Road.

I cannot remember without smiling. I cannot remember without tears. Today is Father’s Day. I cherish and embrace the memory of all of my fathers on Neff Road.

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