It’s no secret that Dad was my favorite parent. I was “Daddy’s little girl.” I was a superstar, and could accomplish anything I wanted. To have not had sisters — or a mother that he could remember — Dad had a knack for raising girls.
It was Dad who was the nurturer — the one who kissed the boo-boos, affirmed me, told me I was smart and beautiful. He was kind, loving, and steady. Even when he was angry, he wasn’t prone to outbursts.
It was Mom who spanked, yelled, and always found something wrong with me. My hair, my clothes, my makeup, the condition of my room — nothing was ever good enough. It didn’t matter what I did, it wasn’t right. Oh, sure, she praised me when I brought home straight-As or other successes. But she didn’t love me like Dad did.
Dad wrote me letters while I was in college, carefully printed on yellow legal paper, using yellow correction fluid to fix his mistakes. He would visit me periodically. He bought me my first car — and took out a credit life policy so that it would be paid off if he died. Which he did. I wonder now if that was foreshadowing.
When Dad died suddenly at age 60, I was on the phone with him. It’s a fact few people know, and something we never talk about. Ever. I still wonder whether I did the right thing, if I waited too long to call for help. By the time the rural volunteer paramedics arrived, he was long gone.
When it came time to plan a funeral, choose a burial plot, and other such tasks, Mom was a mess. I was the rock, the one who ushered her along to make the necessary decisions. I remember standing with Mom, staring at Dad in his casket, and her whispering, “It’s OK to cry.” I didn’t cry at all. Later, with my friends, on a dark night outside my parents’ house, I cried until I threw up.
And I still cry today. There have been many times I’ve thought that Dad was the only person who truly loved me.
While I know that’s not true, it remains a fact that he loved me best.