Throughout my childhood, I remember having so much love for my father. I remember his special knock at the front door. I remember no matter what we’re doing, once my siblings and I heard that knock, we raced to the door to be the first one to get a hug.
When I was first, I would run to him and as he picked me up I would tightly wrap my legs and arms around him. My grip so tight he didn’t have to hold me up at all. He’d walked over to my mom and gave her a kiss while I was still holding on. Then he asked me about the day. I would give him a rundown of all the things mom had to yell at my siblings about.
I remember calling him Big Maurice when I reported the news and Daddy when I wanted something. He also noticed. One day, he told me, “It’s not fair, once I hear your sweet voice and look into your beautiful brown eyes, it’s impossible to say no.” He looked at me and I remember his smile when he said, “No matter how old you get, never stop calling me daddy.”
I also remember the day when I refused to say daddy ever again. I was in the third grade and he was moving out. I was so mad at him that I wouldn’t say a word to him to entire week before he left us. My life was so different after that. I was in constant state of confusion and anger because my parents couldn’t work it out. No matter how much he gave me over the years, I refused to say, “Daddy”.
During my senior year in high school, I went to visit him. He pleaded for me to call him daddy and my voice cracked as I explained why I couldn’t do that. I tried to put into words the pain and abandonment I was feeling on a daily basis. My dad apologized for the pain he finally saw in my eyes and explained that no matter what I call him, I will always be his baby-girl.
Then he talked to me about his relationship with my mom. My mom is the love of his life, he said, and he will love her until he dies but he wasn’t good enough for her and she finally realized that. I admittedly objected. I remember the date nights; I remember him bringing her home her favorite food; I remember him dancing with her in the living room; I remember him cooking for her and all the good times in between. Our nearly four-hour conversation seems like a few minutes. I said “Talk to you later, Big Maurice”
Once I made it home, I was mentally and emotionally exhausted. I kept seeing my father tear up as he expressed his love for my mom. I was so confused but I was sure I never wanted to fall in love.
When I opened the door, the strongest woman I have ever met, my mom, was on the phone and without saying anything, she wrapped her arms around me. She gave me the phone and it was Big Maurice. I looked over at my beautiful mom as she made me a plate of dinner. She was truly happy as she sang along with the radio with a huge smile on her face.
Then it finally registered that my dad was saying goodnight to me. I know he said it at least three times already but once again he said: “good night MyChelle, I love you.” I utter without reservations, “Good night daddy, I love you too.”
That summer I moved a few cities away to stay with my big sister and earn some college money. I would talk to my dad at least once a week. Those weekly calls gave me a chance to express my fears. With my mom, I put on a brave face but with my dad, it was unfiltered chaos. He always made me feel strong and capable. I remember during my second year of college, I took the 2-hour bus ride to his house and told him that I was done with college. I had experienced my first heart break and I didn’t want to go back. He listened to me cry and I feel asleep on his couch. He took me to breakfast the next morning and shared several stories about him and my mom. My daddy asked if I wanted him to take me to my mom house or back to school. I told him I wanted to go to school.
He was sick the weeks leading up to my graduation. He apologized because he wouldn’t be able to attend. I thought would be fine as long as mom was there. The day before graduation I went to visit him, while I was getting my hair and nails done. He was still in horrible shape and I told him I loved him. That night, my mom found out her ride wouldn’t be able to make it. She wanted me to know she was extremely sorry. She said she would ask my father, but I told her not to worry because I just saw the terrible condition he was in. She called me back an hour later and said my dad was bringing them up for my graduation.
I remember calling my dad and he said that my mom had a healing voice and it was too hard to say no to her. My graduation was one of the best days I had spent with my parents in years. Over the next 11 years, our weekly calls became bi-weekly and eventually monthly. However, our relationship was still strong and our monthly calls would last hours.
July of 2012 the monthly calls were now every other day. I went from living a few cities away to living several states away. We talked about everything, at least that’s what I believed. Late August, my sister informed me that my dad had lung cancer. I obviously didn’t believe her because he would’ve told me himself. I tried calling him and he didn’t answer. The next day, he called me and I remember saying “not just a summer cold?” His voice cracked as he said, “afraid not.” He told me he was home and doing better and he wanted to hear about me. We talked for a few hours and I said goodbye around 1:30am.
The next day I researched his cancer and I cried nonstop. I asked him to fight it because I really needed him more than ever. He promised he would and we talked over the next few days. After a day of radio silence from him, on September 13th of 2012, my sister called me at work. I remember my boss looking at me with sadness in his eyes as he passed me the phone.
After my sister told me he passed, I don’t recall anything but waking up in bed and my husband holding me. I cried uncontrollably for hours. I felt numb until Christmas. I knew this Christmas would be my first Christmas without him making fun of my love of this great holiday. Although it has been five years since my father went home, this day is still hard for me. My journal is full of letters to him. I will always be daddy’s little girl.
What are your thoughts on grief? Does it get easier? Are you a daddy’s girl or a Momma’s boy? Do you have a daddy’s girl or a Mommy’s boy?
Until next time, shine amongst the stars.