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.

He rode a bicycle with a basket . I have no idea his age since I was just a child, but my best guess would be early to mid twenties. Mama would take us on Saturday’s to get my brother’s haircut where comic books were piled in the empty seats and an old dresser held a cash box and a glass jar of green liquid. The chairs lined the tiny shop in an “L” shape where the patrons sat and watched the barber clip and scissor his way through politics and local talk with them. If I read those comics once, I read them a hundred times. At this moment I’m remembering the Superman episode where he’s in the dimension where everything is backwards. Oh how I wish I had those comic books! Not so much for the price they might fetch, but for the feeling of predictability that my childhood held.

Little brown paper bags sat like soldiers in perfect formation on the cabinet against the side wall. Mama would buy us each a bag and we ate and read while the grownups talked. I always liked it when there were a lot of customers as that meant more time to read. And the drinks–glass bottles out of the machine at the end of the room where a good pull from the round slots and a quick burst of hiss from the opener was to enjoy the fizzy burn of sweet Coca Cola carrying away the salty goodness of the fresh roasted peanuts.

Sometimes the peanutman showed up on our time there and I would watch the interaction between him and the barber. It was a standing arrangement where he would carefully place the bags, then take his money from the barber and be on his way. I knew something was different about him, but I didn’t know what until I grew up. This gentle soul was most likely making his living from peddling his bicycle and goods because that was the depth of his ability.

My childhood was built on such things. People, places, and things were the order of the day AND THEY WERE ORDERLY. The barber is gone, along with the little shop with the green liquid and comic books. The peanut man rides no more except down the lane of my memory, but I can tell you those days were not just peanuts. They were the making of memories that are worth their weight in gold.