“What we have once enjoyed we can never lose; All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” Author Unknown
I found this quote today and it really spoke to me. …”All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” That’s the way I feel about my Daddy. Even though he has passed on, he’s still very much a part of me.
Although I think I favor my mother in appearance more my than Dad, I think my personality is more like Dad’s; quiet, reserved, and maybe a little stubborn at times. Other things we had in common are our love animals, our love of the outdoors, and our love of our family. It means everything to us.
For as far back as I can remember, I was with my Dad every chance I got. I wanted to go wherever he was going. I couldn’t wait for him to get home every day from work at the Air Force Base so we could go do something together. To me it was like an adventure to see where we would end up and what we would be doing. Once when I was young, I remember us going into the woods to find and ant hill so I could put them in my new “ant farm”. It was something popular when I was a kid. You purchased this kit that had a slender, clear plastic container. You then found an ant hill, scooped up some dirt and ants, including the queen, and put it inside the container making sure to replace the lid tightly. Within about a day, the ants would go to work and soon you could see their tunnels through the dirt up to the surface.
We always had some kind of animal around, including some wild ones. We had were a flying squirrel, a king snake, various turtles, tadpoles in the summer, and a variety of lizards. I think the flying squirrel was one of my favorites. We kept it in a cage with a little white mouse and they got along just fine. We put wood shavings in the bottom and gave it cotton balls which he/she would pull apart and build a nest with. My Dad also raised birds for a time. We had all the farm varieties; turkeys, peacocks, pheasants, quail, and wood ducks. But he also had the type sold in pet stores like cockatiels and love birds. We would hand feed some of those and then they would be sold as pets. It was a lot of work feeding those birds every day. My Dad would come home for work and would spend a couple of hours outside feeding and watering them all. I will never forget the time he bought some rheas, which are like a small cousin of ostriches. One day one of the rheas got loose and was seen running down the road, with my Dad running after it. Some time later, he showed up with the bird wrapped up in his arms. My poor Dad was dirty, beaten and battered, and needless to say, a little upset. Rheas have very powerful back legs which they use to kick and scratch when they are trying to escape if they feel threatened. Lessoned learned. The rheas were sold the next day!
My Dad also loved plants and when I was growing up we had a large greenhouse. He taught me how to grow and take care of plants and he passed on his ‘green thumb”. We built the greenhouse out of PVC pipe and covered it with clear plastic. When you walked inside, it was like a little tropical paradise with plants of every variety. I loved the rich, earthy smell and the moist, warm air. He had cactus and succulents, ferns, pitcher plants, orchids, miniature roses and much more. Anything that was unusual or different, he had it in there. Some of my favorites were the “living stones”, which were these succulents shaped and colored like little rocks, and his “staghorn” ferns, which literally resemble the horns of a deer. Those were Dad’s favorite and we still have some huge offspring of them at my parent’s home now.
I think the thing that stands out most about my Dad though was his love for his family. He always put us first. I am the middle daughter of three. My Dad would do anything and everything to provide for us. He wasn’t afraid to work hard for what he wanted. My Mom once shared a story of how when I was just a baby, my father would go to the blood bank and give blood more often than allowed. Back then they paid you for the blood. We needed money for food, diapers and whatever. Dad was going to make sure we had it. The US Air Force didn’t pay much back then. He continued to give blood his whole life. He had a large supply of t-shirts that he received over the years for giving so many pints at the Phosphate plant where he worked as an electrician.
My Dad insisted each of us girls lived at home until we got married. He just didn’t want us moving out. And to this day, we each have some land beside my folks house to live on if we choose.
Today is my Dad’s 81st birthday. I miss him dearly but I know he’s looking down on me and smiling. And I know that he’s a part of me I will never forget. Thank you Dad for all the happy memories, for the morals and values you taught me. I feel so blessed to have had a Dad like you growing up.