Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Why I'm Coming Around to Feb 7th

 February 7, is the second most dreaded day in my year. I despise it for all it’s worth and often wish I could just sleep it away. It’s the anniversary of when we buried my father over at Hillcrest cemetery. The passing of this day has gotten much easier but it still always reminds me that the Big Guy is missing from my life.

            Writing a blog is a funny thing and very addictive. I guess because I am a story teller at heart, I enjoy making connections with all the remembrances, crazy adventures, magical moments, and figuring out how they relate to my life. In my down times, I’ll actually begin to piece together what I want to say or share and create how I’ll frame it. My favorite part is how sometimes what I start out to write never materializes but I end up somewhere quite different.

            Like today’s blog. I promise that I am not trying to pat myself on the shoulder but I had this amazing blog written out and ready to type up. There was some pretty good stuff to be found. I had some heartfelt moments, a few tears, and even some actual dialogue which I am trying to incorporate more. I was going to share a tale that only people in my secret inner circle know about. I don’t think it was the best blog I’d written but I did feel it would have been the right one to remember Dad by.
The Big Guy circa 1986

            Then yesterday happened and blew that sucker out of the water. I always refer to those special moments and how fleeting they are. If I did not share, I’d be stupid and missing out on writing about a real relationship changing moment. The original blog will be back at some point but I think you’ll see why I had to go with this one. Please indulge me.

            Yesterday had not been that hard to get through. I kept busy with teaching classes, a teacher-parent meeting, and other assorted mundane tasks. Somehow Kim and I decided to meet up for dinner after Roni’s Horseback riding. For space and time, we picked the Cracker Barrel by I-95.

            I arrived before Kim, Jude, and Roni so I busied myself by looking at all the junk for sale and figuring out how to distract the kids from a potential buying spree. They pulled up so I decided to greet them at the door. I began waving frantically as if I could wave down someone on the interstate. Jude began laughing. Roni was not as amused.
I know this is somewhere in my future.

            Now, I have written on several occasions and expressed how Roni’s and I have had a rocky start to our relationship. Basically, we had to figure it out on our own and at times, it was downright frustrating. To add Coleman Fuel to the fire, we both enjoy yanking the other’s chain. Roni’s not amused? I’ll wave louder. It was about that time Kim pointed out how Roni was about to cry because she has had a rough day.

            I prepared to kick into super-apology mode as Roni walked up to me. She looked up at me with those gorgeous brown eyes that I know will make me have to chase off boys one day. I could see she barely had it together.

            “Robby, I’ll tell you inside but for right now, please give me a hug.” Roni almost whispered.

            I wrapped my arms around that little girl and just held her for I don’t know how long.

            Now, I am a hugging type of guy and know that my lumberjack/wookie type frame (notice I didn’t say teddy bear) is rather therapeutic. Over the years, I have given countless hugs to baby sisters, upset campers, close friends, crying girlfriends, dumped fraternity brothers. I could go on.  Somehow that hug felt different from any other hug I have ever shared before. It has haunted me. As I type, I am still trying to put it into words and can’t. The closest thing that describes yet still pales is how I’d feel when Mary was little and needed her big brother.

            This little girl wanted me to be the one to comfort her. Personally, I would have thought Roni’s want Kim but for the first time, she picked me. We have been doing very well since the summer and fallen into a rhythm of getting along. I know Roni accepts as part of the family to where she even enjoys having me around. But that moment when she was in my arms and I was holding her, I think we both hit a new connection. She trusted me enough to provide a few moments of comfort while I allowed her to let me feel like a Dad. Not a step father but a Dad.

            Veronica and I have always been very clear with our boundaries. She’s going to be my step-daughter and I am the step-father. Kim and the kids have even dubbed me “Big Daddy,” Being a step-father is weird because I have my feet on both planes. I’m not the real dad but I’m also something of some merit too. Our moment yesterday opened up something. I have always dreamed of experiencing. The Dad bear hug.

            There is just something about watching the Dad give his daughter a big bear hug. I saw it on numerous occasions between Mary and Dad. Dad even shared plenty of those hugs with me but somehow, I’ve always known it was different between the Dad and daughter. It’s a whole other range within the relationship that has somehow eluded me until last night.     

The kicker is how I got to experience it for the first time on a day when I remember my Dad. February 7th doesn’t seem to have that same sting now. Having Roni and Jude in my life has enriched me on so many levels. Being around them makes me remember what it was like to be a kid around Mom and Dad. I used to hate Dad being gone because he’d be an astounding grandfather. Somehow a little bit of the mystery of parenting makes a little sense to me and it took an eleven year-old girl upset about her favorite horse possibly dying to teach me.

            It may not have been the greatest dinner I ever had but the conversation was top-notch. Roni explained how the horse she’d been riding for five years had tumors and it might not go well. I was able to share stories about my late dog, Belle and how sometimes letting go is a mercy but it still is pretty shitty. There was much laughter and even some corn bread which seems to fix everything. My Dad even popped up in conversation but it didn’t hurt to remember or share.  By the time the Richardson-Wade-Yanceys departed, life seemed a bit lighter even thought I still refused to purchase the vintage style $3 Hershey Bar at the register. (Thanks, Cracker Barrel, nicely played) It’s nice to know that a day with a bad memory can sometimes grow into a good one that I may even use for a wedding toast one day.
One day...


  1. Loved it, Robby!! You are going to make a WONDERFUL Big Daddy!!

  2. Thanks Robby. I miss my Dad so much! I understand your February 7th, because I have a July 16th. Roni and Jude are so blessed to have you in their will make, and are making a wonderful Big Daddy! And she will always have those memories...this day being one of them.