While February brings attention to showing our love because of Valentine’s Day, I was blessed to have a Dad who demonstrated what it means to love all year long. In fact, he set the example of the behaviors that I looked for when I began dating. There wasn’t ever a time that I did not feel my mother and I were not loved by my Dad.
My mother loved flowers. In fact, she planted and nourished her flower garden daily. Every Friday, my Dad brought a beautiful arrangement of my mother’s favorite flowers home. She and I would play a guessing game to see who would pick the floral arrangement of the week. Rarely were we right and that was the way my Dad liked it- surprising us and watching our eyes light up when he arrived home.
My Dad made every holiday special, not just Valentine’s Day. The year always started with a chocolate cake for my birthday. On Valentine’s day, I received conversational hearts, red hots, and a box of chocolates. At Easter, it was jelly beans, colored eggs, and an Easter bunny. For the fourth of July, we lit up sparklers together in the backyard. He made candied apples for Halloween and together on Christmas eve, we prepared cookies and milk for Santa.
As soon as I became a teenager, I was ready to learn how to drive. On Sunday afternoons, I could hardly wait for my Dad to pull into the driveway so that he could take me out for my driving lesson. In fact I would be standing out front, poised and ready to jump in the car as soon as he drove up. He always greeted me with a smile and motioned for me to hop in and away we went. Never once did he tell me he was too tired or how busy his day had been; rather, he immediately directed his attention me and asked about my day. Of course, before turning the wheel over to me, I could expect that there would be a question about the last lesson. For my Dad, it was about the rules and responsibility. If I passed my driver’s test, he promised to let me drive his car to school. My mother warned him not to make that the incentive, but he did anyway. And when I passed my test on my first attempt, I couldn’t wait to tell my Dad and see his reaction when he had to give me the car keys. Without hesitation, he congratulated me on my accomplishment and handed over the keys. But that too was my Dad, a man who kept his word.
Every summer, my Dad planned our family vacation. He wanted us to have fun and enjoy different experiences. My cousin, who was like my sister, always went with us. Sometimes, we traveled to other parts of Florida, while other times we went as far north as New York to visit my Dad’s best friend who I called Uncle Oscar. When the World’s Fair came to New York, Uncle Oscar invited us to visit. At the time of the Fair, my Mother and Dad had a previous commitment and were unable to go. He thought this was a once in a life time opportunity and suggested to my mom that my cousin and I should go anyway. My mother was reluctant. The two of us traveling alone, going to such a large City. But my Dad always had confidence in me and said, “I’m certain we can count on Patricia to follow our instructions. She’ll be fine.” And off to the World’s Fair we went. My Dad was right, I followed their instructions. After all, I never wanted to let him down because I knew how much he loved me.
My Dad was patient and always directed his attention to my mother and me, our favorites, and our desires. He kept his word, and wasn’t afraid to let us go so that we could become our best. When he passed, tucked inside of his wallet which I still have today were the pictures he carried of me and my mother. I miss not having him physically present but his love is forever a part of my heart. I know he always loved me and I will forever love him.