I can’t remember just what age I was when I became aware that my dad was my all-time hero. He just was.
Since I was an only child for 11 years, I was both daughter and son rolled into one. I would sit on the stool by my dad’s workbench and watch him for hours tinkering on a household project. We would talk and sometimes we would just “be”. Dad was the male version of Donna Reed. He would send me off to school every morning with my lunch bag and a hug accompanied with a short sermon on the importance of being a good student. I attended Catholic elementary school and since I was extremely outgoing ,with a large circle of friends, my undivided attention was somewhat of a challenge for the good sisters. I aimed to heed dad’s advice; I always wanted him to be proud of me.
When school was out for the term, I looked forward to our fishing and crabbing outings. Armed with our crab traps and our trusty flash light; we would set out in the wee hours of the morning and spend a wonderful day laughing and getting more sun than either of us needed. The reward for our loss of sleep, a delicious Sunday sauce made from the fresh catch of our bushel of crabs.
Many years have passed since my childhood days with dad but the memories have never faded. Eventually I grew up, got married and we took our own three children fishing and crabbing. It was our turn to make new memories for them to cherish. Dad and mom moved to Florida, along with most of their friends, in anticipation of an idyllic life of retirement. Along with the warmer climate they enjoyed a clubhouse that offered dances, trips and new venues to explore. Although I was happy that they were enjoying this stage of their lives, I couldn’t help but miss them. When Sundays rolled around we looked forward to our calls so the kids could talk to grandma and grandpa. When it was my turn to play catch up with dad, he always had a silly joke to tell me and I always laughed. I was dad’s number one fan, his best audience. As our conversation came to a close, we’d say our goodbyes and dad never saw the tears in my eyes when I told him I loved him.
My folks are gone now and as I look at a favorite photo of me and dad I know he will always be my “forever hero” and I will always be “daddy’s little girl”.