Father of Mine

In honor of Father’s Day, I thought I would honor my father by writing about my love for him. I have shared many poems I have written for the man but have not told many stories about the man who inspired those poems.

My father, the handsome man in the picture above (clearly, good looks run in my family), is and will always be my hero. He has overcome more hardships than any person should have to endure. He grew up with 12 siblings. That’s right, my dad was one of thirteen children. My grandfather left when he was a child, leaving my grandmother to raise nine children alone. The other four ran away when they were in their teens. Incredibly, they all reconnected years later. Anyways, my grandmother was abusive, both verbally and physically. She would beat my dad with a switch until he bled, and she continuously told him that he wouldn’t amount to anything. Boy, did he ever prove her wrong!

I could go on an on about the many sob stories I have heard about my dad’s upbringing, but they always bring me to tears, and that’s not the topic I want to focus on. Despite dropping out of school in the fifth grade to help take care of his younger siblings, tend to the garden, and various other activities that should never be put on a child, my father became the father he never had. My brother and I are very fortunate to have a dad who loves us immensely, and tells us and shows us as often as he can. My dad was never abusive, in fact, I can count on one hand the number of times I recall him genuinely becoming angry with me. He rarely raised his voice, and even when my brother and I were being punished, my dad would remind us that just because he was angry, did not mean he did not love us. He is one of the best men I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, and I am beyond lucky that I get to call him “dad.”

I think it’s safe to say right from the start, I was daddy’s girl. I mean, I doubt I was even a year old in this picture, but it seems like I have adoration written all over my face.

Growing up, I never enjoyed visiting my paternal grandmother. I know that sounds harsh, but she wasn’t like my other grandma. I couldn’t just walk into her house and make myself at home, she was overly critical of me and my mom, and she expected me to sit still and listen to the adults talk while I kept my mouth shut because I was only a child, and children weren’t meant to have fun.

I think my dad felt guilty at times for forcing my brother and I to endure that, but she was his mother, and regardless of her toxicity, he loved her, because that’s just who my dad is. He had no qualms about telling her when she was out of line, or that he wasn’t going to stand and listen to her bad mouth his wife and children, but he was always there for her. I think he felt bad for her. I digress, my father was not like his mother, he made sure my brother and I had lots of fun, and I think in some ways, he unleashed the child he never got to be.

My dad and his mom

I believe the trip to my grandmother’s house was about 45 minutes, but to a young child with nothing to keep her occupied in the car (remember, this was before smart phones, game boys, and many other technologies you younger whippersnappers grew up with), 45 minutes felt like an eternity. So, my dad would always tell me the story of “Falling Rock.”

I live in the Appalachian Mountains, and there are often warning signs for “Falling Rock” on the roads that run through or alongside the steep cliffs of the mountains. My Father, however, being the intelligent man that he is, despite only have a 5th grade education, made up a story, and perhaps, this is what ignited my love for storytelling. Well, that, and The Velveteen Rabbit.

The story went something like this:

Falling Rock was a Native American boy, around the age I was whenever my dad told the story. He was separated from his father while they were out hunting for deer. The boy’s father, Slippery Rock, searched high and low for the boy, but to no avail. It was getting late, so Slippery Rock went back home to his wife, Jagged Rock, with the tragic news. The next morning, the Rock family received more bad news as Slippery’s father, Chief Red Rock reported that the land has been bought from under them and they had to leave immediately. (Remember, I was only a child who had no idea that people were typically given thirty day notices to vacate). Slippery explained that Falling Rock was missing and there was no way they could leave, however, Chief Red Rock assured Slippery and Jagged that they did not have a choice. Cheif Red Rock promised, however, to leave signs along the road that read “Watch for Falling Rock,” so drivers passing by could keep an eye out. I remember asking my dad how we would let the Rock’s know if we had found the boy, and he told me that it was reported on the news to bring him to the nearest police station in Keyser, West Virginia. So, as we made the long journey to grandma’s house, I would closely examine the woods to see any sign of Falling Rock, and it always helped to pass the time.

As the years passed by, my dad always encouraged me to follow my dreams. He has always believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself. He always taught me to do the right thing, to follow my heart, and that I was worthy of the title “princess,” because I was his.

He and my brother taught me that I needed to be a strong woman to make it in a man’s world. They taught me to learn the basics of any piece of machinery or appliance I bought so that I could know what I was talking about when I needed to talk to a mechanic or a repair man. I know how it sounds, but these two men were very protective (and still are) of the only girl in the family, and they wanted her to know that she could do anything, and not be taken advantage of by men who believe women are bimbos that don’t understand how things operate. My dad taught me how to drive, check my oil, and change a flat tire. He always told me that it was fine for me to love a man, and expect a man to take care of me once in a while, but I should be independent enough to never have to solely depend on a man, and I have never forgotten that.

In the above picture, my dad was currently going through chemotherapy. It was hard to watch him turn into this frail man who was literally fighting for his life, and there was a time when I surely thought I was going to lose him. My dad has overcome Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma three times, and is now in complete remission. He always believed that he was going to be okay, and I’m lucky enough to still have him. He turned 78 in February.

Novemer 12, 1984. I was minutes old.

I sat next to my dad as he held my mother’s hand. I remember watching him as he kissed her right before her last breath escaped her tired lungs, and then I watched him cling to her body as the next breath didn’t come, and I remember thinking how lucky she was to have had a man that loved her so much. I remember that moment so vividly, as if it happened only yesterday, and while there are times I wish I didn’t have such a haunting memory, I’m glad I was there with my father. It’s kind of strange how life tends to come full circle. At one moment on November 12, 1984, it was just my mom, my dad, and me in a room as I was taking my first breaths, and on December 26, 2015, it was just my mom, my dad, and me in a room as my mom was taking her last breaths.

I could tell many more stories of my father and the reasons I adore him, but I will save those stories for another time.

Until then, I will leave you with the song my father always played on his guitar, and I, a little girl in pigtails, would sit at his feet and listen. Recently, I learned the lyrics, so that I could sing along with him while he plays.

Happy Father’s Day to all you amazing dad’s out there, but extra wishes for mine!

Love & life lessons,

Kristian

This entry was posted in Lessons, Love, Personal, This Is Me and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Father of Mine

  1. I can see why you miss him so much, what a lovely man ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • kristianw84 says:

      He’s still with me, but I realized after I wrote the post it might come across like he isn’t. He’s 78, and I don’t dwell on it, but I do think a lot about how our time together is growing shorter. ❤

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Brad Osborne says:

    You have a lot of your dad in you. He must be tremendously proud!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. utahan15 says:

    i see cool too cool . tough road. rough road. i saw that in your eyes. sic

    Liked by 1 person

  4. johncoyote says:

    Dear Kristian. The photos and words were amazing. I am listening to the song now.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Charli Dee says:

    This post is so beautiful! I can just feel the love flowing out of it! You have such a wonderful (and really handsome lol) Dad!

    Liked by 2 people

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