So here I am, it is full summer by weather if not by date, and I am wearing a glistening sheen of sweat, or perspiration, as I was taught to say by my Daddy who wanted oh so much for me to speak properly. Sorry Dad, but when you've been working outside and you are covered in it—not just little pearl drops on the upper lip—streaming all over your body, it is sweat.
This sweatiness has brought on a host of memories of the way it could have, should have been, had I been a more obedient child. I very much loved my Daddy and I was just a little bit in awe of him, he was the authority figure, I was the wayward one in need of that authority. I received the full attention of his authority quiet often causing me to stiffly stand at attention before him in my repentance rather than sit down on the burning section of my anatomy in my humility.
Isn't it strange that I cannot remember the cause of most of these unwanted times of special attention but I do know that never did I feel they were unjust on his part, just unlucky on my part.
He wanted me to sit like a lady, ankles crossed, and walk like a lady (as though I had a rod instead of a spine) keeping my shoulders back, chin lifted. And I tried, occasionally. He wanted me to be a dancer and sing (Mother wanted me to play the harp)! My goodness these people lived in a fantasy world. I had a nice tone to my voice but seldom found the key ( in every sense) and rhythm was just a word; as for my dancing that was a joke, in fact I could hear him chuckling a good deal of the time we tried to swing it! The harp? No comment!
Upon finishing my meal I was not suppose to say, "I am full." That didn't sound nice. I never did exactly discover just what I was supposed to say, I offered several variations; "I can't hold anymore." That was a no! I tried " I am about to pop!" also a big no. He suggested something like "I have had plenty, thank you." Plenty of what, food, water, mashed potatoes, I never (in those days) ate plenty, just a little. So I tried " I've had a little of this and that and I am through." Oh, I was through at the table all right. During my punishment I grew so tired of trying to squint my eyes just right to make the daisies pedals match in the corner as they marched up the wallpaper.
I remember one very memorable occasion when I had been visiting a friend; her big sister was "fast" and wore makeup especially on her eyes, so when I arrived home Daddy was sure that the dark circles under my eyes had been added by my unskilled hand in imitation of the "big sis". "Good grief, Daddy they are there because I can't sleep for trying to think how to excuse myself from the table!" However, the scrubbing I received around my eyes did nothing for the dark circles plus now I had a bright red surrounding them! See? I told you so, oh for heavens sake, those stupid daisies kept on marching up the stupid corner with their drunken pedals.
Then there were the very special little girl and daddy times. He worked nights most often and ran the cake shop in the large bakery right across the street from our house. When he came home late on many nights he would wake me from a deep sleep, he always smelled so good, just like hot rolls with butter. He would bring treats for me right in the middle of the night! Can you beat that! They would be icing drizzled in beautiful icicle shapes, hardened on wax paper then gently lifted and boxed up just for me, sometime the shapes would be of crowns or lightning or loops. There is nothing in this world as delicious as green and pink icing icicles at midnight. To this very day, sixty-six years later, the favorite part of a cake for me is the icing.
He was proud of the way I was like a fish in the water, As a small girl I can not remember a time when I could not swim, and when I did he was paddling right along beside of me.
I can see his hands with my minds eye, they were square-ish with blunted finger tips, a bakers hands and they were soft, unless it was during one of those authority wielding times then they were hard as nails, and they had a language all their own, sad to say I needed the hear them fairly often.
As I grew older, we would have deep meaningful talks about the Bible and God, our country, politics and right and wrong, he wanted me to know…to know. And we would laugh over most anything.
He passed on to me his fear of heights, his very endearing sense of humor and his unending sense of wonder about the world and what makes it go around. He was very intelligent, a Christian , a reader, self-disciplined, selfless, a caring man, I think I pleased him by the way I live my life, and he loved me.
When I dream of him or think of him, It is of his back view, walking as he often did down the street, wearing his loose fitting pants (in the later, thin years) pulled high, his ball cap cocked at just the right angel, whistling beautiful melodies while wondering what is just around the corner.
There are times, driving in town that I may see a small framed older man walking down the street, wearing loose fitting pants and ball cap, my heart does a double flip, but as I draw near, I hear no whistling, and I smell no hot rolls and butter. But I do straighten my shoulders, hold my head high, sing a few notes and long for pink and green icing.