Yes, even as an adult, I refer to him as “daddy,” not dad, not father, not Pops. He was, and is,”Daddy.” To me, anyway. He was also that guy.
He was the neighbor other neighbors came to for advice. We had one neighbor, who it seemed, couldn’t change a lightbulb without step-by-step instructions and he always seemed to need Daddy’s advice about everything from home maintenance to family matters, right at our dinner time. Can’t count the number of times we sat down to dinner only to hear that knock on the back door. Mom would roll her eyes while Daddy would go stand outside with the neighbor solving life’s great problems while his dinner went cold. Daddy could have told him it wasn’t a good time, maybe they could talk later, but he didn’t. He listened.
He was always that guy—the one everyone else poured their hearts out to, wanted his opinion, sought his wisdom and broad shoulder to lean on. He could have said “no.” But he didn’t, because he was that guy. One time a neighbor up the street returned home with her family to find her elderly mother unconscious on the sofa. Rather than call 911, she called my Daddy, hysterical, begging “Mr. Willie” to come up there because she thought her mother was dead. The woman was an RN, a trained nurse. Daddy, who wasn’t in the best of health himself, went and I tagged along with him because mom didn’t want him going into an unknown situation by himself. When we got there, Daddy pulled the very heavyset unconscious woman to the floor and began CPR, after telling the daughter to call 911. Hello? The woman wasn’t a kid. She, her husband, and their teenage kids were all standing around wringing their hands wondering what to do. Finally, after the paramedics got there and were tending to the poor woman, Daddy and I walked out on the small back deck. Daddy was exhausted from the CPR. I asked him if she was going to make it. He said, without missing a beat, “She’s dead as a doornail.” I still chuckle every time I think of that. But Daddy, being that guy, did what he could to help.
He was so full of wisdom it wasn’t until I was an adult, that I started seeing through some of that wisdom for what it was and it makes me laugh out loud. One day we were coming back from somewhere, I was driving and he was riding shotgun. The kids were in the backseat. We passed a pasture of cows and they were all lying down. It was winter and the sky was threatening snow. I thought it would be a good learning lesson for the kids, hearing some old wife’s tale about animals predicting the weather, so I asked Daddy what cows lying down in the pasture meant. Did it mean we were going to get snow? Daddy shook his head and said, “it means they’re tired.” Even with my eyes on the road, I could see the grin on his face.
I miss him. Sometimes so bad it makes my heart hurt. It breaks my heart at times knowing my grandkids only know him through stories. He would love each and every one of them so much. He would love Jeana because she’s learning the value of work. He would love Landon because, just like himself, Landon has that quiet sense of humor, a sarcastic wit about him. He would love Emma because she’s so smart and sensitive, a gentle soul just like himself. He would love Ava because, like me, she’s the adventurer, the tom-boy he’d take fishing. He would love Paisley because she’s a little on the sassy side and I can see him looking over the tops of his glasses at her with an “I don’t think so, little girl,” expression. He would love Aiden because Aiden is his spitting image, from the snow white hair to the handsome face. He would love Ivy because she has a flair for the dramatic, and like Paisley, she’d get the over the tops of the glasses glare often. He would love Casey because of his rambunctious spirit and curiosity about everything. And he would love Ireland because she’s the baby, because she would be the one to climb in his lap with a book.
Happy Father’s Day, Daddy.