Memories from When I was Daddy’s Girl

My head rises and falls with each breath my daddy takes.  I close my eyes and take in the smells that belong to only him:  a mixture of smoke from his Pall Mall Golds, tinctures and creams lingering from his day of barbering, Vel Soap, Old Spice aftershave, and Secret deodorant (the kind that came in the jar and was not yet marketed towards women).  Black coffee and nicotine escape from his tongue when he talks.  It is not offensive.  It is just my daddy.

I sit as still as possible. ¬†I don’t want to leave this spot. ¬†This is my safe place. ¬†This is my home. ¬†Being my daddy’s girl means the world to me. ¬†I wait patiently for his callused hand to pat my arm while the television reports the chaos of a world I am not yet fearful of.

I wait sometimes there, in his chair, comforting myself with the worn out material, throwing my legs over its arms until Daddy comes home from work. ¬†I will read and fill my head with stories and dreams; things I know he’ll understand.

I see him in his other place, also; clear and solid. ¬†He is behind the wheel of the car, I am behind him. ¬†He tells me one more time to get my feet out of the back of his seat. ¬†I don’t know what to do with these long legs. ¬†I look out the window at clouds, telephone lines, and tree tops and listen to his elevator music. ¬†On the way home, I search the night sky for every star, waiting for one to fall so I can make a wish. ¬†Then, I lay my head over and pretend to sleep. ¬†Daddy talks of grown up things with Momma; words that buzz around the car to the tunes of the radio, never settling in my memory. ¬†My mind is there in that back seat, dreaming without sleep, waiting for our car to pull in the drive. ¬†Hoping that I will fool Daddy into thinking I am really asleep‚Ķhoping that instead of waking me and telling me we are home, he will lift me in his strong arms, carry me inside, and place me on my bed like he did when my legs were not so long.

A Dose of Happy

This morning, I opened the door of my refrigerator, slid open the crisper drawer, and peered at the fruit lying there.  I have a bad habit of buying healthy food (with the best of intentions, of course) placing them in that bottom bin, and then, forgetting all about them until one day, I remember and ah-hah!!!! it is too late!  The once lovely fruit is now shriveling inside its own skin and maybe wearing a little fuzzy mold cap to keep it warm.  Well, I got lucky on this day!  There, still in the plastic bag from the grocery, were two beautifully ripe mangoes.  What a sight!  After battling the flu for a week, my body is craving some vitamins and I was so happy to see the forgotten mangoes.

I got out my favorite knife; one given to me years ago by a wonderful friend; and my large cutting board. ¬†I peeled it first, knowing that this is not the correct way but is still the way I like. ¬†Then, I proceeded to try and cut its flesh into bite size chunks. ¬†Each insertion of the knife made my mango’s juice spill, overflowing the cutting board’s large surface. ¬†What a waste!!!,¬†I thought. ¬†I ate the two slices that I had managed to cut off. ¬†The taste was pure joy: like sunshine, beaches, and ocean waves packed in its golden fibers.

I migrated over to the kitchen sink with my remaining treasure, leaned over the sink with the skinless mango dripping its nectar from my hands, and proceeded to feast.  By the time I had gotten as much of the fruit from its core as possible, my face and hands were sticky and wet.  I felt like such a child and I loved every minute of it.  It transformed me to my childhood backyard…to the small peach trees that grew between the fence and the swing set our father had made for us to play on.

My sister, my brother, and I spent many summer hours swinging back and forth with a peach in our hands; sneaking bites and letting the juices run down our chins, staining our clothes. ¬†If there were bug holes, I simply bit out the bad spot and spit it out on the ground. ¬†And, after I had taken my last bite, I sucked on the pit until it was completely clean. ¬†I enjoyed it’s rough texture on my tongue until the roof of my mouth got raw. ¬†Then, I spit out the seed and greedily went for another.

Peaches are like an edible memory for me, still, but only if they are allowed to ripen on their mother tree; the sun beating down on them until they are fully flushed like the face of a young girl after her first kiss.  Their flesh is soft and fuzzy and their meat is juicy, giving itself freely to lips, teeth, and tongue.  It only feels right to eat a fresh, ripe peach outdoors where you can make as much of a mess as you like; you can feel the sun on bare arms; and you can hear the buzz of bees swarming their sweetness.

That is what my mango gave to me, today.  It gave me a peach of a memory, literally.  It made me think of my childhood, my brother, my sister, my daddy, my momma…happy times.  Maybe that is what my flu-ridden body needed instead of the vitamins:  a dose of happy.

I have many friends who are dealing with illnesses much worse than the flu, today.  It is my prayer that you will find something today to lift you up.  When our bodies are weakened, if forces us to be a little stiller…and maybe, in that stillness you will find what God wants you to see.  I pray for your comfort and that you may know how much you are loved.