Even though we call him something different, we’re here to celebrate his life and the impact he had on us. I’m going to celebrate my version of him by telling stories.
The first real memory I have of my Daddie is sitting in his lap at Great-Grandma’s funeral, we sat behind a kind of sheer green curtain separated from the non-family who were at the service. I remember sitting in his lap and playing with his fingers. When I think of his hands, I think of how big his fingers were. His hands were strong and capable and built so many things, but they were also gentle, I remember him holding my hand when I was a little girl, also as a grown up woman, oh how I loved seeing those hands hold my babies.
Sometimes those hands would bust our butts…
I remember a particular incident involving my cousins, C and L, my brother E, and me. We were in the basement at Grandma’s house and the boys had the sword (Why four children under the age of 12 were allowed to play with a sword is still beyond me.) but the boys had the sword and were hitting the metal pole that supported the I beam, the cool part was that it was making an awesome clanking sound. I distinctly remember watching them and thinking we were going to get in trouble. L begged for a turn and they just kept ignoring her. But then I heard feet rapidly crossing the house above us heading for the stairs and that was the moment the boys decided to give the sword to L. And as Daddie burst through the door there was L, sword raised above her head making a huge battle cry and attacking the pole.
They boys thought they were clever, but L was the only one of us who didn’t get her ass beat that day. (I’m not sure why I got it, I just sat there…perhaps it’s because I didn’t stop them.)
When I was a teenager, Daddie was the “cool” dad and friends liked to hang out over our house. I never got that…but does any kid ever? Some friends and I were downstairs watching a movie and I realized one of the angel fish was floating in the aquarium so I shouted upstairs for Daddie to come get it, he came down, reached into the aquarium grabbed the dead fish and waved it around as though it was saying goodbye to all the other fish. My friends though he was hilarious, but I was just mortified.
Another time I came home and he was standing there with my bra in his hand: so I found this under the couch cushion downstairs.
Thinking quickly on my feet I replied: I took it off watching tv last night.
I suspected he knew I was lying, but was relieved when he went with me on it.
It was hard being the teenage daughter of a police officer…there wasn’t much I could get away with…and boys knew he had a gun…
When he taught me to drive stick he was convinced I was capable, but shouted at me the entire time until I finally gave up, stopped the truck in the middle of the street, pulled the emergency break, got out, slammed the door and walked back down the hill to home. We laughed about that as soon as he got home, I laughed as I wrote this. The stubborn apple didn’t fall far from the stubborn tree.
My Daddie loved being a grandfather. He loved spending time with his granddaughters, and when he couldn’t spend time with them he loved hearing about their exploits. He always asked about the girls, and was excited to hear what was going on in their lives. I found a note Thing 2 wrote to him four years ago when she was in the eighth grade, taped to the wall beside his desk. She decorated the card with tons of animal stickers because she and her grandfather both love animals. She actually wrote the card because she got new address labels and was excited to use them. When I brought the card home to her she was flooded with the memory of making and sending it to him, and she was so touched he kept it right near him where he could see it for so long.
Y’all know how much my dad loved his dogs.
Together, the six of them who went before him welcomed their daddy home when he left this world for the next. Three others were left behind but I have faith they will be reunited in time.
I’ve heard all kinds of stories of their walks and driving around and people looking forward to seeing them in the back of the truck. He loved taking them places and showing them off, they loved the attention they got in return. He was a spectacular dog dad and those dogs were so spoiled with love, but never to the point of rotten. He wouldn’t have had that. They were so well behaved, he oftentimes mused he would have liked for E and me to have been so well behaved.
Daddie adored his neighbors, and loved his community. I recently learned he was referred to as the Mayor of Reva.
Oh how that fits him! He was the first to make sure everyone was well sorted and had what they needed and he didn’t hesitate to offer a hand when someone he cared about needed help. He was proud to live there on the corner where he could keep watch over his neighbors and friends.
Weren’t we all so lucky to have such a man looking out for us?
My dad had so much love in him. He didn’t know exactly how to show it sometimes, but he loved each of us the best way he knew how.
His fear of being unloved was so great that he kept a secret for most of his life, when he finally told that secret, the way he loved changed. He was finally able to give and receive love with his entire self, and what a joy that was to behold!
When he told me he was gay, I told him I wasn’t surprised and if he was happy and had love in his life that was all I wanted for him.
When I told the girls, Thing 2 expressed she knew something was different, the last time she saw him, but didn’t realize what it was. She was glad he trusted us enough to share such an important truth. Thing 1 told me she was so proud of him, and she asked if it was bad if she said she thought she actually loved him even more after she knew. My response to her was how could it be bad to love someone more than you already did.
I was proud of Daddie for telling his biggest truth and embracing the love that came at him because of it. He was so frightened that he would be judged and become suddenly unloved I don’t think he could believe how much love and support was offered him.
The last time YBW and Daddie and I had lunch together, he was teasing us because we’re “so cute” together, that we’re so good for each other, that he hoped to find a love like we have discovered. He talked about how I was the truest me with YBW, that he hadn’t seen this Robynbird since I was a little girl, and he was sure that I was as wonderful for YBW as he is for me.
But then, he leaned across the table and told YBW: you know, I’m an ex-cop and if you hurt her, I can make it so your body is never found.
I said: DADDIE!
But YBW looked at him and smiled: you don’t scare me.
And my dad laughed, because he knew they had that moment of perfect understanding, where they both loved me and it was good.
I wished so much for him to find that special person to love him for who he was and help him be the best him he could be.
Perhaps for him that truest love is between him and his God.
I’ve experienced so many feelings in the last twenty two days. The initial shock and disbelief, and then the beautiful agony of seeing his body before they took it from his home, a blessing for which I will be eternally grateful. The pressure in my chest when the realization hit me, the pain of having to share this news with the people I love most, as well as people I hardly know. The love and support that has come to me and my family is overwhelming. Moments of remembering which cause wild cackling laughter, and those that bring the flood of tears. Helping my babies grieve the loss of their grandfather, and allowing them to help me grieve my own loss. The joy of reconnecting with my brother and feeling awful that this is the reason why. I have cried silent tears and huge gut wrenching sobs. I am an orphan now. It doesn’t seem fair. I’m selfish, I want my Daddie and he’s never coming back. My sadness has created physical pain, the exhaustion seems never ending…
All these feelings churning inside me as I grieve the loss of my dad, but one feeling has come up more than any. One feeling surrounds all the others.
I feel peaceful.
I am peaceful in my grief.
My dad lived his life. He loved and learned and lost.
He went from this life so quickly, just the way he would have wanted.
He wanted nothing but love and peace. And that’s what he has now.
We will continue to grieve, we are selfish, I am selfish, I want to have him here with me.
But he will always be with me. Because we loved each other and that love will always be ours.
That love brings me peace.
I wish each of you the peace I feel.