I was a tomboy when I was young. Every day started as early as possible and ended as late as possible. In between those curfews, I played kickball and baseball games and rode bikes with the neighborhood boys and my younger brother. We all got along really well together and I can’t remember another neighborhood girl who ever stuck around too long with our bunch, which was just fine with me.
But as all relationships go, there was an argument one late afternoon. It basically boiled down to me and the boy who lived across the street, Ricky. I eventually ran out of words and threw Ricky’s scrawny ass on the ground WWE style and then held him down. I looked up at the only other witness, my brother, and his eyes were huge and his mouth was hanging open. I had Ricky well under control but I shouted at him “Go get Daddy!”. To his credit, my brother asked no questions and ran as fast as he could into the house to retrieve Dad.
Dad had probably just gotten home from work and settled into his favorite chair when my brother burst through the door. I know the time of the throw down was right before “supper”. I don’t remember what transpired between me and Ricky during my short wait but I’ll never forget what I saw when I heard the front door squeak open.
I looked up and saw my Dad standing in the doorway, frozen mid-step, mouth open exactly like my brother’s, completely bereft of words. I then looked down at Ricky and saw slight relief in his beady little eyes as he anticipated adult intervention and freedom from his clumsy, freckled girl captor. Ricky’s relief changed to panic as soon as I yelled “Daddy, I got him down, come get him!” If Ricky could have spoken (I seem to recall I may have had one hand over his mouth as a gag. Maybe.), he would have yelled “You crazy, bitch!”
Dad just stood in the doorway, still immobilized by shock. I don’t think I’ve ever, to this day, seen as many emotions flit across another person’s face in the span of three seconds. Panic, confusion, comprehension, maybe a little bit of pride, and finally a full on war with himself not to laugh out loud. He finally settled on an adult response and bellowed “Steph, get off that boy!” (Y’all just shut the fuck up right now, this is a Father’s Day post, damn it!)
There are many things I recall about the man who raised me. He loved my mother most of his life and finally got the courage to ask her to marry him a week before he left to fight for his country in the Vietnam war. He was a badass paratrooper who did things I can never even imagine so he could return home. He was a quick learner and never forced me to go fishing with him again after I irretrievably threw his tackle box, fishing poles and the cooler which contained our bait and lunches into the river (I was five years old, gimme a break). He worked so hard for his family, always. He was the little league umpire who called me out during a softball game when it was very obviously a BALL. He was also the same little league umpire who almost had me thrown out of the game when I argued with him at home plate that day. He was a Pentecostal preacher. He served as my protector and solely reserved gun cleaning time for the precise time my dates were to pick me up. He cried right before he walked me down the aisle at my wedding and I had to tell him to stop or I’d cry my makeup off. He was there for the birth of my son. He has laid hands on me and prayed (if you’re Pentecostal and/or Southern, you know what that means) so many times, I can’t even count. He talks to my autistic son several times a day on the phone and if he doesn’t know the answer to Landon’s two hundredth question about Godzilla and Mothra, he will hang up the phone, find the answer and call Landon back later. He always has time to talk to me, no matter how much pain he’s in or what he’s doing. He still leads the prayer before every family meal and he still consistently prays for the widows, the veterans, the brave men and women currently serving our nation, our country (no matter who is President), his family and our safety, and Israel.
I don’t know what I was thinking that day, holding Ricky captive with my lanky body but I knew I’d gotten into a real pickle. Ricky and I were good friends. I didn’t really want to hurt him and of course I knew Dad would never help me “get him”, whatever my ten year old self thought that meant. But I knew Dad would make things right so I yelled what we all yell at one time or another, or at least want to: “Go get Daddy!”
Happy Father’s Day, y’all!