Father’s Day 2024

Daddy and I, July 1965, in Lebanon, KY.

A particular image of my father has taken up residence in my mind recently. I see him sitting at our kitchen table in our house in Atlanta. He has a map open–a fold-up highway map, the kind we used to buy at gas stations and welcome centers–those old ones that today’s young adults have rarely seen. He has a pen in hand, and he’s cheerfully planning the route for an upcoming trip. The destination is likely to be one with which he’s very familiar. Probably it’s a town in central or eastern Kentucky, to visit family. Even near home, Daddy didn’t like to follow the same path twice. Mama said that was one reason she never learned her way around Atlanta. Daddy enjoyed driving, and he was good at it. He’d had considerable practice, as he’d been driving since he was twelve or so. He was born in 1929, and he learned on a Model T. I always knew that if I needed a ride somewhere–anywhere accessible by car–Daddy could, and would, gladly oblige.

Mama remembers how Daddy poured over such a map while my husband and I were on our way to New Jersey after our marriage in the fall of 1995. I was moving away, and this time, it seemed likely to be for good. Before, I’d always returned after a few years. H and I were in a packed U-Haul, with my little Rabbit convertible behind on a trailer. Because we left later in the day, we spent a night on the road in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. When I called home to report our safe arrival, Daddy quickly picked up the phone. He’d been worried about us. (He didn’t yet know that I’d perhaps married as capable and confident a driver as he.)

My husband and I with the moving van in Atlanta, November 1995.

“I’m so relieved to hear your voice!,” he exclaimed. “I think I drove every mile with you!”

Daddy was not a man who cried easily or often. But Mama said she remembers him shedding some tears that evening, as he worried over the map.

H with the van in Carlisle. The trailer for my small car was huge, and could easily have held a Cadillac. As H said, “We were long.”

On this Father’s Day, and every day, I’m grateful to be my father’s daughter. I know that wherever life takes me, no matter how treacherous the road, Daddy is there beside me, every mile.

My husband and my father in Atlanta, December 1996.

Somehow now the years have spun by like the numbers on the oven timer, and H and I are a married couple past middle age, with a daughter of our own. She’s twenty-five, a young career woman, living in another state. But it’s Maryland, and she’s still nearby. So far, we’re lucky that way. I know that she, too, counts herself fortunate to be her father’s daughter. She can be sure that her Dada, like her dear Papa, will be forever at her side, driving with her every mile.

For another post on my sweet Daddy, see here.

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