Saturday, June 14, 2014

Daddy's Little Girl

From my teenaged years on I was a Mama's Girl. My Mama and I spent a lot of time together after my brother and sister were gone and so naturally we were very close.

But, once upon a time, when I was a wee little heart belonged completely to Daddy.

According to legend, I learned my Daddy's phone number when I was 3 or 4 years old and I would call him at work daily to let him know what kind of candy bar I wanted him to bring me that day.

And, he always did.

My Mama cut off all my hair when I was around the same age. I stood by the road waiting for Daddy to come home so he could see what she had done to me. I was pretty sure she was going to get into big time trouble.

Many nights I would fall asleep laying beside Mama in their bed and somehow, magically almost, I would wake up in my bed. Determined to find out how this happened I pretended to sleep one night. Before I knew it I felt myself lifted up into the air in the strong arms of my Daddy. I peeped at his handsome face as he carried me gently to my own bed.

There were many years when I felt distant from him. During those teenaged years when life is hard enough, my Daddy also went through a hard time. And while I was trying to grow into myself and figure out who I was, he suddenly questioned the same thing about himself.

Those difficult days made it hard for us to have that comfortable relationship that we had when I was small.

Many years later when there was increasing health problems, I spent a lot of time driving him back and forth to different appointments. That was a time that was also almost magical. Because during that time, I got to know him not just as my Daddy, but as a man.

There are certain things that a mother places inside of us. I sense her in the way I deal with my family, the way I touch those that I love, and the way I want everyone I love to FEEL loved.

There is a strength in me that comes straight from my Daddy. There is a sense of self that I owe to him alone. In crisis situations at work I can feel all that he was pour through me as clarity infuses me and I can move through the situation with direction and poise.

Daddy did that.

It was my Daddy that caused me to realize that I didn't have to be where I was. It was the prodding of my mother's voice in my head that made me move forward, but it was his backbone that stiffened my resolve and made me stay the course.

I won't sit around and say my parents were perfect. But, they were perfect for me.

One of my favorite times with my Daddy was the last weekend I saw him alive. He was always such a huge presence. I could literally say his name and have people's eyes bulge out (yes, I did that, too). Towards the end there was a gentleness that also came to him, a playfulness that I enjoyed so much.

He and I sat in the kitchen that Saturday after I picked them up from dialysis. He was in his wheelchair and I was leaning on the counter. We ate a whole jar of pickles. haha

He kept saying, "Baby, I know I shouldn't eat these.....Let me have one more."

And, we would giggle.

I laid on the couch and we talked and talked. He would wheel up close to me, trying to see my face through eyes that really didn't see much anymore and we talked some more.

That last morning when I was getting ready to leave, he was already in the living room in his chair. We talked and I asked him if I could get him anything.

"Yeah. Can you fix me an egg sandwich?"

Of course.

I stood at the stove frying an egg and listened to my Daddy in the living room talking to his Father.

"Oh God, thank you for my family. Thank you for the love we have. God, you have been so good to me. I just love you. I have been so blessed."

I fried that egg with tears rolling down my face.

A few minutes later I kissed my Daddy goodbye for the last time. By Tuesday night he was gone.

Tomorrow is Father's Day. It's a day set aside to honor our fathers, to thank them for the love that we have been shown, and to show our gratitude for all the sacrifices they make for us.

My Father's Days are past me now. But, I hope that every day of my life I give honor to the man who was my father. I hope that my life would make him proud, and I am thankful every day for the strength and the courage that I inherited from him.

I will always be my Daddy's girl. I love and miss you, Daddy.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Back in the Day

I grew up in a nice middle-class family. Nothing fancy. But very typical, I suppose. I was raised the youngest child of three and had both of my parents at home. 

We lived in modest but nice homes. My mother had a way of making even a small apartment cozy and full of warmth. Even in the very lean times I didn't know the difference because our home was full of something money can't buy or replicate. 

From the time it was necessary I was taught the difference between what's right and what's wrong and sometimes those lessons included a switch or a belt to my backside. I was taught to respect people and to show that respect. We didn't interrupt when someone was talking. We didn't act like heathens when we were out and about. We certainly NEVER went to someone's home and asked for anything. 

I think that one of the most important things we were taught was not just respect, but SELF respect. 

My parents taught me how to carry myself in any situation. And, when you have respect for yourself a wonderful thing happens - others respect you, too. 

I have spent time with homeless people and I have spent time with a former President of the United States. I have been in the company of politicians and some of country music's greatest legends. 

I have dined with CEO's and I have cleaned the backsides of the elderly. With each person I have met I have practiced the principles from back in the day when our parents taught us how to respect. 

And I have respected myself enough not to "air my dirty laundry for the whole neighborhood to see." I don't jump in the pig pen and wallow with the pigs, and I don't let my own failings and insecurities become the driving force that pushes my behavior. I don't elevate my own feelings at the expense of someone else. 

But, unfortunately my parents didn't raise everyone so there are quite a number of people out there who have some severe deficits in the respect department. 

So, let me share some sage advice. 

1. Carry yourself in such a way that it reflects who you are on the inside as well as the outside. What do you mean Sheri, you may be asking. I will explain. Clothes don't make the man or woman, but if your clothes leave so much uncovered that there is nothing to discover don't be surprised if you get treated like a floosy. If your pants are bagging and sagging and your whole behind is wagging, don't be surprised when you're treated like your intelligence is lagging. 

2. Keep your private business private. Have enough respect for yourself to keep the dirty underworld of your life unexposed to the general population. 

3.  Remember there will be times in life when things won't go your way. You're going to lose, you're going to hurt and be hurt. Suck it up. Hold your head up and keep walking. 

4. Look around you. There are billions of people in this world. And there is only one you. Your love life in the toilet because you continue to make bad choices is NOTHING compared to the mother who held her child while he or she drew their last breath, or the family who lost everything they owned in a fire, or the person who has been watching their mother or father slip away into the depths of dementia.  Grow up and get over yourself. 

5. You don't reach the heights of happiness by climbing your way up there on the hurt of others. You want to find happiness? It's fairly easy and it's completely your choice. It starts by simply loving and respecting yourself. 

6. If you don't like where you are, don't blame others. If you don't have enough, don't sit with your hand out expecting others to take care of you. There is no white horse headed your way.  Get off your behind and be your own hero.

I am thankful today for my parents; what they stood for and what they taught me. I am thankful that I know the value of being a lady and that I also know my own value and worth.