That was the question that awoke me in the middle of the night. I was having a dream about my dad. We were sitting on an embankment of a river, fishing. He used to take me fishing every Wednesday. Wow. I’d forgotten all about that.
As I lay awake at the ripe hour of three in the morning, I began to muse and daydream about other things we did together. My father loved to dance, and every Saturday night the whole family would gather around the TV to watch “Hit Parade.” Perry Como, Dorothy Collins and Andy Williams would fill the living room with music, and my daddy would ask me to dance. He would teach me how “a man properly holds a woman” when slow dancing. In the early years, I would plant myself on top of his feet so he could shuffle me around and teach me the steps.
I drifted into the remembrance of a picture I have in the arms of Robert Wagner. My dad worked for Dell Comics at the time, and somehow he finagled me into the role of “The Dell Comic Queen,” where I made appearances with Walt Disney and Gene Autry and Mr. Wagner. There is one picture that was wide enough to capture my adoring father off to the side, brimming with pride while watching his little girl. He created those opportunities. I never asked how.
Then there was Christmas. When Christmas came around, daddy became a kid all over again. We would decorate the front porch in elaborate, yet thrifty, designs. When it came to the tree, it was almost a sacred adventure. Even today, at my annual tree trimming party, we uphold the tradition of NO TINSEL CLUMPING!!! that my father was adamant about. Everyone tries to sneak a clump here or there, but my watchful eye always spies it and we have a great laugh.
No matter how poor we were, daddy always seemed to find a way to help Santa bring those special desired dreams to our house. He would wait till Christmas eve, and go to this discount place which had everything slashed to half off the “already low price.” I’ll never forget the year I got my bike. The only equivalent today would be winning the lottery.
My dad was creative in so many ways: he was an entrepreneur, an inventor, a marketing whiz. And he was sad. After the war, he tried in so many ways to achieve, but every time…something happened to defeat him. He began to drink. And then that’s all he did. By the time I was about 8, we were standing in a circle “praying for daddy.” And it is the times after that I have been focused on. It is the bad times. And there were so many of the good.
So daddy came through to remind me, his little button-nose, that he gave me many gifts of love and creativity and joy. He was a huge part of the traditions of my life and the values I hold dear. Sometimes, in the quiet of the night, you are awakened with the truth. Remember, daddy coaxed, it is always about the love. Who do you want to honor today?