I Wore My Father’s Name…

August 18, 2015

but never had the benefits as his child. I never once ate a meal, received a good night kiss, awoke to him being ‘home’ with me in the morning, or even shared a bathroom under the same roof. I can count the items my father personally bought me on one hand and still have one digit left. One blue bicycle with training wheels, a wooden skateboard with an inlay of red writing, a brown coat and matching pair of shoes. The bike and skateboard were for my birthday, the coat and shoes for school.

I remember standing in line when he purchased the latter items and having this terrible sense of embarrassment. Although not understanding why  I felt this,  I called, ‘Daddy, Daddy’, to tell him he didn’t have to buy them. I did not feel right, his spending money on me. Unable to get his attention with my soft child voice, the items laid on the counter and were soon in the Magic Mart sack.

When he took me to Sears and Roebuck for my bike and skateboard there was no shame or guilt, as I was younger say, six or seven. The purchase of the coat and shoes, I was probably eight or nine.

There were no family pictures, no holidays, no weekend excursions with my father. An occasional drive to the local dairy bar for a chilidog, malt, and dip cone was usually it. I do remember one time me, my brother, mother, and father going to an eat- in hamburger place. It was the only time all four of us were together out in public. I still hold that in my mind to this day. I was so overjoyed I didn’t know  what to do.

He was a distant figure who showed up at various times and would stare down at me through the screen door with a smile and a low voice. The last time I saw my father was when I was in high school. He came by and I showed him the console stereo my youngest aunt had bought me for my high school graduation. I remember we talked a bit, maybe about after high school…I don’t really remember the exact conversation. I do seem to recall him telling me something I had heard him say when I was younger, “Always remember that you are just as good as anybody else.” I didn’t fully realize what impact those words held coming from him at the time. I now do.

My next contact with my father was seeing his name in the obituary section of the local paper. I know he thought about me, because three or four months before he died he was strong on my mind. At age twenty-six I hadn’t thought to look up an out of town telephone number.

Even in death, my name was nowhere mentioned as being his daughter.

My father was gone. I never really knew him, yet I had worn his name. I have a few memories, I carry his blood, and I had none of the benefits of being his child.

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