I'm older now than he was when he died at 62. Most years, I don't even acknowledge this day, since it's been so long since we both walked this earth. He was born in 1917, almost a century ago and died of a heart attack. One of my earliest memories of Daddy was sitting in his lap when I was very small. I put my hand on top of his and have a clear image in my mind of the difference in the sizes of our hands: his huge one and my very small one. It's amazing which memories stand out.
Mama never got up to send us to school, so I remember Daddy making lunches for Norma Jean and me and getting us onto the bus. He also would wash my hair in the sink, again I remember his enormous hands and how gentle he was. I wonder why Daddy is the one who washed my hair; I don't remember why, but he did.
After Daddy retired from the Air Force, the family settled in Fort Worth, across the lake from the air base. When I was sixteen, my parents started having babies again, and the three small children, my brother and two youngest sisters, grew up in one place, rather than moving constantly the way the first three of us did. I was a little envious of the roots they put down. Mama and Daddy had the most wonderful home for many years on the lake. I would come home to visit now and then, or sometimes to escape a failing marriage. I would come home for a few months.
Even though I had moved away from the family before they settled there, I always thought of it as "home" because that's where Mama and Daddy were. Daddy didn't actually retire but continued to work at General Dynamics after leaving the Air Force, and in a post I wrote about him on my other blog, my brother made this comment:
Don't forget he also worked at General Dynamics (now Lockheed) for a number of years after retiring from the Air Force. GD was also across the lake, and he often piloted his boat (GiGi, pronounced "jee-jee") to work. It was cool watching him take off into a strong wind with lots of "white cap" waves on the lake, on his way to the office.When I was home at Windswept (the name of the sprawling house on the lake), I found that Daddy would always get up before work and whip up some frozen orange juice in the blender, with small paper cups lined up on the counter, one for each of us who slept there the night before. The memory of all those tiny paper cups filled with frosty and foamy orange juice is vivid. The taste almost comes back when I think of it. He did that for so many years it became a family tradition.
Daddy was a family man, and he fathered seven children, one of whom died in infancy, but all the rest of us are still here. I'm the only one who will not further the family line; every other one of my siblings has children who are having children. I wonder just how many of us there are now. Norma Jean has just become a grandmother and I a grand-aunt. Daddy loved us all, I know that with every fiber of my being. It would have been nice to have him around longer, but now that I've come to the end of this post, I realize I answered my own question.
I do remember Daddy very well, and time has not dimmed his value to me, or to his other offspring, of this I am sure.