I remember it like it was yesterday. A lot of the details I do not recall, but what I do remember, I remember vividly. I had to be put under for a dental procedure at a young age, and I told you not to leave me. A brief moment before the procedure is all I remember, but I have heard stories about what took place afterwards.
Apparently, once I came out of the fog of the anesthesia and saw you, I hit you and said “You left me!” then immediately fell back asleep. I was UP-SET, honey! Why was I so upset with you? Because I felt safe when you were around. The fact that you weren’t there with me and you let the doctors take me away from you made me sad. I still can’t believe I hit you though! Sorry about that. I guess this is a perfect example of how drugs will make you do some crazy things. LOL!
As you know, I was a HUGE daddy’s girl. I was your “Cracky” and your “Josie”, and I did NOT play when it came to you. You were my hero, and I was your absolute biggest fan. Do you remember how I would sneak out of my bedroom in the middle of the night and come into you and Mama’s room? I had to open the bedroom door quietly and move like a ninja because the second Mama discovered that I was creeping into you all’s bed, she would run me out of the room and back into my own bed!
Not you though. Every time I made it to your side of the bed without waking Mama Bear was a success. All I had to do was nudge you or whisper your name and you would scoot over and let me slide in on your side of the bed. Once I snuggled up next to you, I knew I was home free for the remainder of the night. I win, and Mama loses. Sweet victory!
On the nights that I would get caught and sent back to my room, I would cry until I cried myself to sleep. As an adult, when I looked back on those days I assumed that the level of sadness I felt and the tears that streamed down my face were just a reaction to me not getting my way. It was not until just last year that I found out the real reason behind my extreme disappointment.
Mama told me that when I was a baby, you would put me on your chest and I would sleep there. Daddy, that was so dangerous! It was also super sweet at the same time, and it filled my heart with so much love when I heard that.
That simple fact also shed light on so many other things for me. Suddenly, it made sense that I was a daddy’s girl and always wanted to sleep with you guys instead of in my own bed. I would lie on your chest and literally sleep to the soundtrack of your heartbeat for hours at a time. What would one expect from me? All I have to say is, it wasn’t my fault.
All of my life, I’ve had to hear my siblings and Mama talk about how spoiled I was. Looking back on my childhood and reflecting on my relationship with you, I’ve realized that they’re wrong. I wasn’t spoiled; I was just well taken care of. You were the best father I could have ever asked for. I cannot remember a time that I had to go without. You made sure I had everything I needed and even some of the things I wanted. We went on a family vacation every summer, and I absolutely LOVE going to San Antonio to this day because of you. You always protected me by any means necessary, and you constantly showered me with love.
You were the perfect picture of what a man should be in my eyes. When something needed to be taken care of, you jumped on it. Procrastination and avoidance were not a part of your routine or vocabulary. And boy did you appreciate the finer things in life. From your watches to your rides, everything attached to you stayed clean and in tip-top condition. I also LOVE a nice looking Lexus because of you. I’ve already put in a request to my husband for a red one!
Speaking of my husband let me tell you how he almost did not make the cut because of you. Oh yes buddy. It was your fault. I was looking for a man that had some of the same characteristics that I absolutely loved about you. In my mind, those characteristics were essential to a man being a man. I wanted somebody who had a nice car that was kept up, knew how to roll up his sleeves and fix a lawn mower, owned a gun or two, and the list goes on and on. You know, those stereotypical “man” things that all men are “supposed” to do.
Daddy…you set me up for failure. They don’t make them like you anymore, and many men have had to suffer the consequences of me having the best father in the world. Unfortunately, my husband was one of those men. He’s a city boy and totally different from you in so many ways. Different was a negative thing to me for the longest time. Why couldn’t he just do things the way you did? I mean he’s a man so he should be falling into this man formula that I had created in my head, right?
I had to learn to accept him for who he is and not punish him for not being you. Do you have any idea how difficult that was for me? It took me a long time to fully embrace that. We went through a whole lot of misunderstandings and arguments to get to where we are, but we’re in a much better place now.
He may not keep a gun on him at all times, but he’s still a great protector. I feel just as safe when I’m with him as I did with you. No he doesn’t obsess over his car like you did, and yes he was driving a hoopty when we first started dating. But he’s gotten me two cars since we’ve been together, we currently have two vehicles in the garage, and he always makes sure that I’m driving the nicer one. So no, different isn’t a negative thing. It’s just a new thing, and I love it. I love him.
I wish you could meet him! My husband (Vecente AKA V) is an amazing man. You would absolutely love him, Daddy. He’s a God-fearing, anointed man of God, and he can preach any house down. And his hoop?? The boy can HOOP, Daddy! Sound familiar? Yep. I messed around and married YOU in that regard. He has an old soul and can talk about Jesus all day. I think you two would have had some great conversations.
You should see him with your grandson, Third. He’s such an amazing daddy, and Third absolutely adores him. He even said Dad before he ever said Mama! Oh, and the way he loves me??? Just like Christ loves the Church. V treats me like the Queen that I am. He gives me whatever I want…most of the time. Other times he has to reel me in and give me a reality check, and that is what makes him the perfect man for me. He knows when to oblige and when to oppose me, and he always pushes me to be better. He is so kind and sooooo patient with me. Submission, that word that most women hate to hear, is extremely easy with him. I have no qualms about following his lead because I know he is taking his cues from The Most High. Sometimes, I really do feel like I don’t deserve him. Trust me, I am in good hands.
I remember it like it was yesterday. A lot of the details I do not recall, but what I do remember, I remember vividly. You had been at the house under hospice care for a little while, and there were a few cars at the house that day. I guess people had come to visit you. It turns out they knew something that I didn’t know.
It was October 16, 1999, just two days shy of your 59th birthday and five days shy of my 13th birthday. Joshua, Jamal and I were playing outside when Mama came and told us that you were gone. I remember how strong she was when she told us. She seemed a little said, but she didn’t cry. Neither did I. I couldn’t. I felt numb. After staying home from school for two days at the most, I went back. I remember Mama asking me, “Are you sure you’re ready to go back?” It made no sense to sit at home and sulk so I got up and went to school.
I’m sure I probably cried at some point, but the first memory I have of me actually crying was at your funeral. We walked up to view your body, and Mama leaned over and kissed you. She tried to get me to give you a kiss, but I couldn’t do it. When I looked at your body I felt nothing. It wasn’t you. You were gone. That’s when it hit me. YOU LEFT ME! How could you?? How did you expect me to navigate this world without you here? I instantly felt lost. We sat down, and the tears started streaming down my face as I laid my head on Mama’s shoulder.
A piece of me was missing. A piece of me is missing. Grief has no destination or end date. Instead, it is an ongoing, life-long journey that consists of hills and valleys. I’m in a valley right now, Daddy. Some Father’s Days are easy for me, but this one is one of the rough ones. I miss you beyond what words can communicate.
If only you could have seen me walk across the stage at graduation. If only you could’ve walked me down the aisle and given me away. I wish I could have danced with you on my wedding day. I wish you were here to meet your grandson. He has your big ears, by the way. I wish you could be here to hear me preach. Man, I would give just about anything to know what you think of me as a preacher! I know I may never be as powerful as you were, but I’m definitely going to try.
Every day, I live my life in a way that I feel would make you proud. Every goal that I reach, everything that I accomplish, and every mountain that I conquer, I do it all with you in mind. You raised a strong little girl, and that little girl has become a strong woman. And for that, I say thank you. Thank you for teaching me independence at a young age and loving me in a way that taught me how to love myself. Thank you for laying a God-centered foundation for me to stand on. I promise to take the torch and carry it until the day I die. Your ceiling…my floor. I love you, Daddy. Happy Father’s Day.
AKA Mommi Joanna