My daddy passed away in June 1973. But the few memories we shared, will live on inside me forever. We had a very short time together, only a few years off and on, but the memories we made together are priceless to me.
My dad was a tall man, a presence. He always wore a suit, and resembled Ernest Tubb (if you don't know who that is, look him up, he's an old country singer from years past). He was a very tidy man, who always kept himself looking his best, and the house clean. He also loved to cook, and made sure there were cookies on the table when me and my brother got home from school. Homemade peanut butter cookies were the best!
My dad was very charasmatic and everyone flocked to him. His nickname was Sugar Cain, and everyone always just called him Cain. I later learned it was because his family farmed Sugar Cane, he was tall and our name was Cain. He was an accomplished and very talented musician that played with the likes of Hank Williams. He could play any musical instrument set before him, but he was a well renowened Fiddle Champion, so I'm assuming that was his passion instrument. People came from all over the southern part of the country just to hear him play. I inherited his love of music, and while I was never as talented as him, I feel that a part of him lived on in me (and my brother Ralph).
He was old enough to be my great grandfather. He had another family years before, and my siblings were grown and in the military or married, before I was even born. I was not only the "baby of the family" (as I was told often), but I also the only girl. Because he was older, and had medical issues related to his alcoholism (he was recovering when he passed), diabetes and heart disease, he was sick a lot. I remember him being in the hospital more than anything. And my last memory of him would be when they came in that cold, blue room at Baptist Hospital to tell us that he had passed away from a massive heart attack.
Because my dad was older and sick a lot, I used to love to take care of him. We lived in Moreno Courts, and there was no such thing as air conditioning there (or carpet either for that matter, we had black concrete slate floors). We slept with all the windows wide open with box fans. I would lay in bed with my daddy at night and sing to him, and he would tell me stories of a woodpecker that lived in the trees. This was our nightly routine, and I would beg every night to hear the story of the woodpecker.. again.
Because my dad loved to cook, he wanted me to also. He taught me to make pancakes (homemade not the box kind) when I was 5 years old, on a hot plate. I never did inherit the love of cooking that my father had, and I'm so glad he never knew that haha.
My dad was also an avid gardener. It must have come from his years of his family farming, He had a little garden right in front of our house. He grew steak tomatoes, and I grew cherry tomatoes.. just my size. We had okra, peppers and various other little vegetables.. but the tomatoes are what I remember the most because I thought he had created them that size, just for me! We tended to the garden every day, and I was beyond happy when we harvested our first tomatoes.
We watched Lawrence Welk, Hee Haw, Petticoat Junction and Wide World of Sports together on a huge console tv that had a record player and eight track tape player in the top. I can still remember him and my mother dancing in the livingroom to that old music. I thought my daddy was a hero.
I have no memories of birthday parties, father/daughter dances, Christmas or any other holidays with him, because there are none, but the memories that I do have are precious to me. My dad was a giant.. and while he wasn't perfect, I do know in my heart that he loved me very much.
The few things that I learned from my dad (the good things), I passed on to my children.
A father holds a special place in the life of his children.. daughters will always be their little girls, and daddy's will always be the man that had the most impact on his daughters and son's life.
My dad had lived a long, hard life. He wasn't a very good person for a majority of it. But I think he felt that having children again, so late in life, was his second chance. My dad quit drinking and started to going to AA meetings, he got saved and began going to church before he died. Many nights I slept on the pew, with my head in his lap on Sunday and Wednesday night. I know he had regrets, and many times saw the sadness in his eyes over the loss of the relationships with my brothers.
I am grateful for my time with my dad, albeit short, it had a lasting affect on me. I wonder sometimes if, wherever he is, he knows that I love baking cookies for my kids, and telling them stories. I wonder if he knows that because of him, we have a music room in our house and everyone has their own guitar or bass. I wonder if he knows that because of him, I know not to drink too much, and because of him... I do my very best to be the most positive influence in my children's lives.. right next to their own father.
Thank you daddy.. I love you. And although I know you aren't reading this, Happy Father's Day.