It was well known that I was Daddy's Little Girl. My father made no secret about how much he loved me. Of course he loved all his children but I held a special place in his heart and he in mine. One day he even told me that I was his favorite daughter. To which I replied, "Uh, dad. I'm your only daughter." He said, "Well, yeah, that too."
My family loves to tell the story of how I came into this world. My parents had planned on only having two children, a boy and a girl. Unfortunately for them (but fortunate for my middle brothers), I took my sweet time arriving. My parents ended up having four boys before I was born. My birth was the only occasion my father ever gave my mom red roses. At that time, fathers weren't allowed in the delivery room (something I'm sure my dad would have wanted to do), so he stayed home with my older siblings. When he called the hospital to inquire about his wife and new child, the nurse turned to my mom and asked, "Can I tell him the sex of the baby?" My mother replied "Yes! Otherwise he won't come pick us up!"
My father was one of the kindest and most generous souls I have ever known. You had but to ask and he was johnny-on-the-spot. So much so that sometimes his independent daughter found it necessary to tell him, "Daddy, I do it my rown self!"
Growing up, I cherished the times he and I were able to have our own father-daughter time together. I know he did too. Like when I was in Blue Birds and we had our father-daughter dinners. Each troup got up and put on a presentation. When it was our turn my father sat there beaming. And while I was doing my solo bit, I think I saw him floating about 3 feet off the ground.
I also adored the times when he and I got to spend time, just the two of us, doing ordinary things. My father loved camping and hiking. To him, that was quality time spent with his family. He and his step-father would go hiking through the southern California hills and liked to recreate that experience with his children. One of my favorite things to do was going fishing with him. He and I would get up at the crack of dawn and go out in the canoe. Dad would paddle while I held two poles, one off each side of the canoe. There was a serenity about that time of the morning and sharing it with my dad made it even more special.
His love for me never waned. When I joined the Navy, I think he had a harder time with the separation than I did. I describe the first week of training as akin to a college hazing. We aren't allowed to do anything without asking for permission not even to go to the bathroom. So, there was no opportunity to call my parents after arriving. I had planned to call them on Saturday once we had completed our indoctrination and I was allowed more freedom to come and go. My father, however, was too impatient and Friday night, calls the barracks looking for me. He was worried he hadn't heard from me. For the next four months if he didn't get a phone call or letter every week, he would write to me asking if he had done something to upset me. I had to reply, "No dad, I'm just busy."
When I would send photos of me in uniform, mom said he would practically stop strangers in the street to show them. When I came home after graduating from Officer Candidate School, dad stood there saluting me as I came off the airplane. Yeah, he was proud of me.
Over the years dad and I tried out a number of things together like learning how to water ski and down hill skiing (we both sucked at the latter). I had come home to visit one Christmas after joining the service and he suggested we make a trip to Mount Ashland. We rented some skis and took some remedial skiing lessons then went on to tackle the bunny slopes. We had different techniques. Mine was the creeping snow-plow. Frankly, I could have walked down the mountain faster but at least I didn't fall! Dad's was whoosh and crash. Which was much like how he approached life, with gusto and vigor and not afraid to take a risk.
As I said, my dad was always quick to be of assistance. A trait that never failed him. On another trip home to visit, I had gotten up in the morning and my dad, always the early riser, was already in the kitchen getting the tea ready. He asked me what I'd like for breakfast and I replied, "I don't know. What do you have?" He then rattled off a list of various breakfast food items and finally said, "But if you'd like something else, just let me know and I'll go get it!" I had to tell him, "Dad, you're being too helpful!"
When I started getting into genealogy and wanted to create scrapbooks with the information of my family's history, he was an inordinate help, scanning photos and sending them to me with a little caption so I'd know who/when/where the photos were taken (at least as much as he knew of them). He even dutifully followed my instructions on how to scan high resolution photos so they would be print quality. I was suitably impressed at how well he caught on. I gotta give the guy credit. Despite his late introduction into the digital age, he really tried to learn and use the computer. It enabled him to reconnect with his old photography friends and to share photos.
Dad always had an optimistic outlook on life. If you asked him how he was doing, he'd say, "Faaaantastic!" That certainly describes him as husband, father and friend to everyone he met.
Love and hugs, dad. You will be greatly missed.
Finally, here is a rendition of "our" song. My dad use to sing this to me when I was a little girl. I can't help but think of him every time I hear it.