A Father's Touch...

March 9, 2018

Babies recognize their parents by looking at their faces - hearing, smell, and touch. What makes a father’s touch special?

 

There’s something to be said about a “father – daughter” relationship. He is her first – First love and First Hero.

 

That bond begins with a touch – Picture this: a father strokes his daughter’s cheek - with his finger, maybe his mustache. She flinches, smiles, and coos. His heart melts. From that moment on, she has him wrapped around her finger. The trap. She is his soft spot – the precious cargo he vows to protect forever. The daddy – daughter bond is formed.

 

That’s what happened to Terry.

 

Michelle’s hair was disheveled. She stomps on the carpet, trying to secure her left slipper. Her face wore sleep deprivation. She huffs. Then puffs constantly. With her five-year-old daughter Shay in daycare, this should have been easy. It wasn’t.

 

“Why is this so hard? What am I doing wrong? Three months shouldn’t be this hard.” She thought to herself pacing.

 

Terri’s cute little wet face wore the tears from crying all afternoon. Her fine strands of hair were slick down. Smooth on one side from sweat. She wore herself out. And, she wasn’t finished.

 

Terry entered the living room. His nose greeted the pamper and bellybutton of his first born – his namesake (spelled with an i). Her little legs dangled, as Michelle held her in the air. She anticipated his arrival from work – The Marine Corps base in Camp Lejeune, NC, three hours away.

 

“I can’t do anything with her. I tried everything. What am I doing wrong? She just cries and –” Michelle sighed.

 

Terry held her close to his chest, whispered in her ear, and planted a soft kiss on her little cheek. He bounced and cradled her as they headed toward her favorite - the baby swing. Her frantic hands settled down as he strapped her in and pressed the start button. He pulled up a chair next to her. Watched her sway back and forth and said, “So tell me what’s going on.”

 

Michelle leaned against the kitchen wall relieved, watching the two of them from a distance. 

 

She babbled, cooed, and babbled again, as if she had so many things to get off her chest and share with her father.

 

Was it the milk? Did her diaper need changing? Was she colicky? In pain? No. None of the above.

 

Why did she respond so quickly to Terry? What made her calm down? It was her Father’s Touch!

 

He touched her. Responded to her by listening. He believed in her. She trusted him and felt safe – the way that a daughter should feel with her father.

 

It was that special something that a father and daughter have. It’s a connection like no other. She wanted and needed the one thing that her mother could not give her – Her Daddy!

 

“My dad’s the greatest.”

“No, My Daddy’s the greatest.”

“Says who?”

“Says me!”

 

No doubt you’ve heard this argument at some point in life. Maybe you started an argument with those exact words.

 

This was never a debate or argument for me. Why? Because, without a doubt, my father (daddy) was The Greatest. No one could tell me different. What made him the greatest? My father was the renaissance man who did it all.

 

He wore the following titles with pride: Husband, father, grandfather, friend, helper, builder, handyman, motorcycle rider, bull rider, gardener, tow-truck driver, construction worker, Director, Corrections Officer, veteran, and retiree.

 

Evil Knievel –  I called him that in my heart. He was a dare devil. Never afraid to TRY.

 

(Spoiler alert: I know for a FACT, I am his daughter. I'm not afraid to try, I welcome a challenge, AND I don't give up !)

 

I can recall a time when my father was in-between jobs. Denim fabric was scattered all over living room, next to a brand new sewing machine. He tried dabbling in fashion. This was an attempt to create his own clothing line – His own brand of Jeans. It’s no wonder why my father was the GREATEST.

 

His motto: “Enjoy life. You only get one.”

His work ethics: “It doesn't matter what job you have. Do your best and give it your all. If you’re the janitor, you sweep and mop that floor with pride.”

“Education is important.”

“Stand up for yourself.” 

 

My father instilled good manners, respect, and old-fashioned values in all of us. He spoke with authority – Disciplined with love.

 

Somehow, I understood and accepted at an early age that my father was married, had another family. They loved me unconditionally (still to this day).

 

That never stopped him from visits, trips, shopping or outings. He always made time for me. And, I never felt neglected. More importantly, I received his love and affection.

 

He taught me - LOVE is an action word.  

 

My father loved all eight of his children – We each wear the “charismatic eyes” inherited from dad to prove it. 

 

Tony Orlando and Dawn had a song – “Tie a Yellow Ribbon.” I remember sitting on dad’s lap singing that song (yes, I’m dating myself). We made a pact when I was four years old.

 

I remember like yesterday – running in my room, rambled through my drawer to find that yellow ribbon. It had to be in that drawer somewhere. I just wore it taking professional pictures. Found it. I handed that ribbon to my father with pride and waited for his next move.

 

He placed his hand over his forehead, searching for a tree. Couldn’t find one in the living room. He improvised. Tied that yellow ribbon around the lamp post. “Baby, if you tie this yellow ribbon like this, I’ll look for it and come and find you,” he said.

 

Once, I tied the ribbon around the lamp post and waited. My father didn’t come. Two weeks to a four year old felt like forever. I cried. He was busy with work. When he finally showed up, I pointed to the lamp post with the ribbon still intact and asked, “Didn’t you see the ribbon? I tied it right here.” 

 

“Oh, you have to pull it up higher and tie it real tight. I looked for it, but I couldn’t see it.” That excuse worked. I believed him and that’s all that mattered.

 

Why? Because, daddy fixed it and made it better. That’s what they do!

 

When was the last time you told your father, “I love you?” Had the privilege to say, “Thank you daddy. You mean the world to me.” When was the last time you hugged your father?

 

I received the call from my caring step-mother: “When are you coming to visit? Your father’s health… it’s taken a turn… He has less than two months.”  

 

Those words still ring loud and clear in my head. Immediately, I booked my flight. Next available – two weeks. I planned to make that time count. “I’m on my way daddy.”

 

What I learned – When your loved one suffers from late stages of Dementia – under the Parkinson’s and Alzheimer umbrella, the two-month hospice time frame is anywhere from two weeks to two months. In dad’s case, it was less than two weeks.

 

“I’m coming daddy. I’m on my way.” The words echo in my head and heart. By this time, my loving father who always had the strong voice and words of wisdom, was voiceless. I planned on speaking for him.

 

He communicated via winks, blinks and nods. During the late stages he was confined to the hospital bed at home. My stepmother shared: “Whenever I tucked him in with a hug, although he couldn’t speak, he pat my backside and smiled.” 

 

That’s my daddy! *smiling*

 

“Two weeks. I had everything arranged. I was on my way. He couldn’t wait. I beat myself up for not arriving sooner. I wish I had a do-over. I’d hug him. Tell him how wonderful he was. Thank him for being MY father. Tell him, “I love you,” one last time.

 

Everyone who consoled me shared, “Sweetie, he knows you loved him.” Although I believed them, I still wanted to be there before he closed his eyes. I wanted that Father’s Touch – the one that left an impact on my life.

 

Reminiscing, it’s been three years since my father passed. Fond memories, pictures, stories, my siblings and the mirror in front of me brings a measure of comfort. My Heavenly Father above made it possible to see him again in the paradise (John 5:28, 29 – the resurrection hope). Until that time... .

 

“I’m the greatest…” ~ Muhammad Ali

 

Well, will you look at that! My Champ – The Greatest (far right) standing in the presence of Muhammad Ali one of the greatest legends.

 

Sorry Kids, “my daddy is, was and always will be the Greatest.

 

I’m not selfish. I know that YOUR father is the greatest. Did he leave fingerprints on your heart? Please, share his story. (This includes daughters, as well as sons)

 

~ Ms. Zipporah 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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