“Hello, my Amerikees!”
It was one of my father’s favorite greetings whenever he would come home. I’d hear his truck on the gravel path of our driveway. I’d look out the window and see him driving his dark blue 1987 Ford Ranger towards the shed. Sometimes I would even come out to the back porch and watch him get out of the truck. He would wave with his hands that seemed too big for a man of his size, smile and say, “Hey, baby girl!” and I replied, “Hey, daddy.” I’d turn and go back in the house.
This scene didn’t happen when I was a little girl. It happened when I am a grown woman in my early twenties. To say that I have always been a daddy’s girl is an understatement. I had special real estate in the area since I was the only girl and the youngest child.
He would greet me sometimes, a severe mispronunciation of my middle name, Sharain.
I can still hear him: his voice, his syntax, his special country boy way of talking. Father’s Day 2018 will make my seventh year without him.
Father’s Day is a hard day for those of us whose fathers are dead. Dead is a cold word. It doesn’t hide behind the pretty euphemisms of “passed away” or “gone.”
For a few years after he died I didn’t celebrate Father’s Day. My dad was dead and I didn’t feel like celebrating anybody else’s daddy. And if you’re reading this and your father is dead, know that it’s okay to not celebrate. It’s okay to sit in whatever feelings you may have and to even cry if you need to.
He may be dead, but he lives on in me.
My brothers and I lived in the same house in Bluefield all of our years in school; we never had any utilities disconnected because of lack of payment; we always had food to eat, even if it wasn’t cooked and ready: the cupboards, fridge, and deep freezer always had food in them; we always had a mode of transportation to get where we needed to go; we had both parents in the home, and they went to work everyday. As an adult, I would figure out why Da wouldn’t say “I love you” often: Acts of Service was his love language.
This Father’s Day I remember him, all of the memories and moments we had together, the fish fries and cookouts, all the summers shelling butterbeans and peas from his garden, the times he would “play possum” to trick me, or the time we went fishing and only caught little baby fish we eventually threw back into the river.
My daddy’s dead, but I’m blessed. I had a good daddy.