Every father’s day I suffer from regrets—regrets because my father died when I was a child—regrets because I wish I’d known him better and more regrets because I certainly could have used his strong guidance when I was growing up.
My father died of a heart attack when I was 7-years-old and with every passing year my memories of him become more precious. I only wish I had more of those memories.
I remember how I used to pester Daddy on those rare afternoons when he’d come home early from work. I’d snuggle up to him and chatter endlessly, even though Mama told me, “Don’t bother your daddy. He’s trying to rest.”
On those rare afternoons, Daddy seemed to be listening to whatever nonsense I was spouting as he smoked his unfiltered Camel cigarettes. I must confess, though, I didn’t always listen to him, like the day he brought an old car home from his hardware store.
One of the doors—on the passenger’s side—was missing. Unaware of the danger, I begged Daddy to let me ride along in this mysterious old car.
“Okay, but you have to stay away from the open door,” Daddy cautioned.
I hopped in the car beside him, but soon managed to wiggle away and fall out as we rode up the hill in front of our house. I landed at the bottom of the hill, tousled and breathless.
When I glanced up, I saw Daddy, staring down at me. He didn’t scold. Instead, he said, “Are you all right?”
I felt half dead, but I wanted to impress Daddy by being tough. So I brushed myself off and answered, “Yes.”
“Okay, come on. Get in the car and let’s go,” he said.
Occasionally, Daddy would take us to a movie, but mostly he worked. He wanted to provide his family with the finer things in life: a huge brick home, a fishing pond, a swimming pool, tennis courts and our own merry-go-round. But I would have gladly traded it all for a few more years of sharing moments with him.
I’ve told my daughters their granddaddy was a great guy, but I wish they could have discovered his greatness on their own. I’ve told them of the time when I was a teenager, a strange man was wandering around our house. I called the police because Mother wasn’t home and I was afraid.
When the police questioned the man, he said he used to work for Daddy many years ago: “Whenever I needed work, Mr. Ira would always give me some.”
I’ve shared this story with my daughters because I wanted them to know their grandfather was a good man. I wanted them to know he tried to help others. I wanted them to know he was generous in giving of his time and money.
I only wish he’d had more time for me. And on Father’s Day I am again reminded of how much I miss him.