By Kenneth Stepp
I met her about a year and a half ago, I guess. Have you ever met someone and right away you just knew they would have a profound affect on your life? That didn’t happen here. Well, me feeling like she would make a big “splash” in my pool of life didn’t happen. But the change did come. Months later she and I kind of re-met. One day we were having lunch, something we do these days quite often. I can’t remember the town, the restaurant, or much of anything other than our first conversation. We were talking about family. She touched her necklace, this is what I have to remember my daddy. It was a fairly plain chain of gold. Her and her father were close, he passed away some years ago. She spoke of her daddy in glowing terms. She never let go of that necklace while reminiscing about him.
Every now and then I remember that conversation with my friend, I have five children myself, my conversation with my friend makes me think of my father. I lost him in November of 2011, I was fortunate enough to have visited him just before he passed away. My dad was a mans man, he joined the Navy during WWII by lying about his age. He loved his country and was compelled to defend it on a personal level, so he lied about his age, ate a ton of bananas to be heavy enough to get in. His life would never be the same. While in the Navy he was a boxer. In my father’s time and especially the area and people he grew up around, he learned to fight. Everyone in his world did. They were men, real men. No mani/pedi dates, no fancy meals. Give him a burger and a few tools and he may just conquer the world.
I’m amazed at how often I hear my dad’s voice in my head. Even more amazing is how often I hear his words come out of my mouth. I suppose I missed a lot of his wisdom while thinking about how stupid he was when I was a teenager. I wish I had those days back. I miss him more every day. I remember how I thought of him as Superman when I was young. I was always safe when dad was around, always. He was my dad, my protector, he made me safe. I always knew he loved me, although he wasn’t big on saying it. It just never came up, I knew, he knew, and that’s all that mattered. When I think of what a man suppose to be. He is it, my template to manhood. My dad would stand up to King Kong for me. I have so many regrets, mostly that I didn’t tell him I loved him as often as I should have. That I never really expressed what a difference he made in my life. One day I will receive his badge, it’s the only thing I want of his. I’ll have a special place for that badge in my heart and home.
Today is a new day. Divorce is so common, families are ripped apart over things that would have been overcome back in my dad’s day. I still wonder what happens when I’m gone. How will I be remembered by my kids? Will they have stories to tell? Memories they enjoy? What legacy did I leave? Or will they remember the family after it wasn’t intact any longer? There is always bad and good to remember. Most of us are born with two people who would give their lives for us without hesitation. That’s a very big thing. What we leave our kids is not entirely in our control. There are issues out of our control. Drugs, lies, and rumors would be a good place to start I guess. I know I love them unconditionally, but do they? I knew my dad loved me. One day, will my daughter touch a badge or a necklace and talk about me? Times have changed. Even love looks different than it use to. Families have changed, life has too. Confusion and complexities rule the day. I once wrote a quote, “it’s time to stop enduring life, and start enjoying life.” As profound as that sounded at the time, there are days when I wonder if it’s possible anymore. Times have changed, life has changed, families have changed. I’m sure I will have another conversation with my friend soon. Maybe I’ll mention her dad just to watch her touch that gold necklace again.
In case you’re listening… I love you dad.