Remembering my Daddy, Ira Hodges, on Father’s Day

As a child, I was afraid of monsters and would often sneak into my parents’ bed at night. After I fell asleep, Daddy would carry me back to my bed. One time he didn’t.

That was the night he died.

The next morning, I found Mother crying in the living room. Our house was full of people. Many of them were crying, too.

“Where’s Daddy,” I asked Mother.

“He’s gone away,” she said.

Later at the funeral home, a man asked, “Would you like to see your daddy?” He carried me to a shiny casket and hoisted me up.

Daddy looked handsome, but asleep, and I didn’t understand he wouldn’t wake up. I soon learned he died of a heart attack.

I was seven when he left this earth, and unfortunately, I don’t have many memories of him. I do recall pestering Daddy once when he came home early from work. I sat on his bed and chattered while he was trying to nap. I can still see his camel cigarettes on the bed stand.

Daddy worked most of the time. 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 all the luxury for more time with him.

I’ve told my daughters and granddaughter he was a great man. Although 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.”

Another man told me Daddy repaired the windows in his family’s house for free. “It was cold and we couldn’t afford to pay,” he said.

I’ve shared these stories and many others like them with my daughters and granddaughter because I want them to know he tried to help others. I want them to know he was generous in giving of his time and money.

I only wish I could have had more time with him, and I know my sister Alice Kay feels the same. We’ve missed not having him in our lives, and with that thought, I’d like to wish all of you a Happy Father’s Day. #HappyFather’sDay.