Learning How to Love
My therapist has asked me several times recently where I learned how to be such a loving and caring woman and mother, because I didn’t have an example of how to be that way. But that’s not true, I always come back to you, Dad. I don’t know what changed on May 26,1986, but I know that before that day you loved me. You taught me how to love and care about other’s.
I can remember the first time that you took me fishing just like it was yesterday. I was so excited, you took me outside to the backyard and you taught me how to look for night crawlers. You gave me a little spade and you carried a white plastic container with a clear lid on it. Then you told me to look underneath our deck because it was cool and dark there, and my best chance of finding any night crawler would be there. I remember the smile you had on your face, I could see all of your sparkling white teeth and I was so proud of myself.
I can still hear your voice as you told me that I did a good job. You let me play with that first night crawler for awhile. I was amazed by how long it was; I investigated every last ridge it had on it, and the way part of it was a purplish gray color. Then you started laughing when I started screaming after finding out that the brown stuff coming out of the end was poop; I started laughing too, but I held onto that night crawler. I watched with excitement as you put it into the white container on top of the dirt that you’d added, when I wasn’t looking.
I don’t remember how many night crawlers I collected that night , but I remember thinking how gross it was that we had to put the container in the downstairs refrigerator. Even though we only used that fridge for drinks and the built in keg tap, I was still grossed out. Then you told me to go to the upstairs bathroom that was across the hall from my bedroom and take a bath. We both knew how mad Mom would be if I got any dirt in the house. So I ran up the stairs,and immediately to a bath.
I could hardly sleep that night, and I had to go to bed before my normal bedtime because we would be leaving early the next morning. Mom came to check on me, but I heard her coming and made sure to pretend like I was asleep. I was scared that if she caught me awake, she wouldn’t let me go fishing with you the next day.
You had told me that an older man named Frank Tribble would be going fishing with us. I spent part of the time I was awake,trying to imagine what Mr. Tribble would be like. I figured he would nice because you said that you’d known him since you were my age. At the time, it seemed like that was forever; it’s funny how a six year old views time. I finally fell asleep.
The next morning you came to wake me up at the crack of dawn. I didn’t understand what that expression really meant until that morning; at five in the morning, there had barely been a streak of light in the dark purple sky. I didn’t care though, I was just happy to help you collect all of our fishing gear. I remember telling mom good bye as I ran after you to your old red and white Ford truck.
We put all of the gear into the bed of the truck, and then you opened the passenger side door and helped me climb into the cab. I sat down in the middle and you double checked my seat belt to make sure it was fastened correctly. Then you walked around to the driver’s side door and hopped into the truck; the engine started to purr once you turned the key, and then we set out on adventure.
When we got to Mr. Tribble’s house, he was sitting on his porch waiting for us to arrive. Once he got situated in the passenger’s seat, you introduced us to one another. I remember being amazed at how small and skinny he was. Mr. Tribble lived off of Sixth street, right around the corner from the Benjamin Banneker community center. As we passed Banneker, you told me that when you were little it used to be the black school.
I was confused and asked what a “black school” was, then you told me that when you were little all of the black kids in Bloomington went to that school. I asked you how come you all went to the same school, because I was the only black kid in my class. I couldn’t believe it when you told me that when you were little, black kids and white kids didn’t go to school together. You told me that when you went to Bloomington High school, the black and white kids went to school together.
To be honest, I don’t remember much about that conversation. All that my little brain could focus on was catching fish; I was convinced that I would catch a ton of fish in no time at all. I knew what to do, my dad had already shown me how to cast & I’d practiced reeling in several imaginary fish over the last twenty-four hours.
As we got closer to my dad’s special spot, I began to notice sounds that I’d never heard before; the closer we got to the private pound, the foggier it became outside the truck. I never would’ve admitted it at the time, but I had started getting scared. I’m going to go out on a limb and say the fear must have been evident on my face, because both my dad and Mr. Tribble started laughing.
Then my dad told me that the low gurgle like sounds that I was hearing was only two frogs trying to find one another. He said it was like when my sister and I would yell for one another when we were in different rooms, those frogs just wanted to know what one another were doing. By the time my dad parked the truck, all of my fear was gone and I was ready to catch some fish.
At the time, I had no idea that that fishing trip would be one of my fondest memories of him. I guess I loved that day, because he didn’t have to be the cop who took care of everyone or the coach who taught teens how to play football. That day he was just my dad, sharing your history with me and showing me what a parent’s love was supposed to be like.
DADDY’S LITTLE GIRL
One of my earliest memories took place at this church; I was walking with my mother when a woman stopped us and said that I looked like my mother. I looked at her and said with the simplicity of a child: No I don’t, I’m my daddy’s girl! As young girl I was my dad’s shadow; to me, the sun rose and set with my father. If my dad went somewhere, I was always right there by his side. I was there when we got into his truck when it was still dark outside, and we stopped to pick Frank Tribble up, so we could set off on one of our 5a.m. fishing trips. My dad had a secret spot on the northern end of the county. On my first trip I of course caught the most & largest fish. I can remember the excitement that I had when I described the “big mouth” bass that I caught. My dad just smiled and didn’t even tell me that it was really called a large mouth bass. Then there were all the football practices that he took me to, where I would yell at the players to get their legs up higher as they ran through the tire drills. Or the fact that he used to call me little bird, because he painted the wood trim around our rock garden white and I got into the wet paint. He told me that it looked like a little bird had gotten into it & thus my nickname was born.
When I was little, I would get scared every-time he went to work because I didn’t know if he would return home safely. Well, I paid attention to all of the lessons that I had at daycare on calling 911 to call the police. In fact, you could say that I learned the lesson too well. I would always call 911 & ask if I could speak to my father. However, that all changed the day the 911 dispatcher called my house and spoke to my mother. She asked my mom if she could teach me the non emergency number for the police department, apparently they didn’t feel that my wanting to speak to my dad was an emergency….ooooooppps!
If you knew my father in a professional way or if he was ever your football or wrestling coach, then you know that my father could be tough. He wanted you to give him 110% of your effort, because that’s what he always gave. I’ll be the first to admit that at times it could be frustrating. But to this day, I can still feel the pride he had when he told me that he’d heard my name on the radio, after I won the 300 meter hurdles at my first high school competition.
However, my father wasn’t always tough. I can still see the tears that ran down his face on the day of my prom. You’re probably thinking that his tears had something to do with me growing up, but you’d be wrong. He was really crying because the thing he wanted the most for his birthday in 1992, was for his little bird to get better from my paralysis. So for his birthday, I was able to walk to him unassisted and I saw my father cry. He also cried when he held each of my daughters’ for the first time. I may not be my Daddy’s little girl anymore, but I will always cherish the memories of when I was.
Copyright Bisublivinginvanillaworld 6/18/12
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