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Chocolate Covered Cherry Memories

Updated on June 16, 2013

He was five foot five, and weighed a whopping ninety pounds. His name was Russ but most everyone called him Smitty; I just called him dad.

My dad was small and fiery; you did not want to get him riled up, but most of the time he was just a big ol’ sentimental softy. I’ll never forget one Friday night when I was working as a hostess at a busy restaurant; it was during the dinner rush and I got a message that I had an emergency phone call. I thought something was wrong with my dad, as he had just recently had surgery, but when I answered the phone, in the cashier’s room, my dad, in a most excited voice, announced that my cat had given birth to three kittens. I look back at that incident and it always makes me smile, because to my dad, the birth of those kittens was far more important to him than the fact that I was at work. He couldn’t wait to tell me the happy news.

I look at my son and see how respectful he is to his dad and me. He has never given us a moment’s grief. My son has truly been a dream to raise, and then I think about what an absolute nightmare I must have been for my dad. My mom and dad were separated for almost seven years, so it was just dad and me during my teenage years. I was angry with dad, and blamed him for mom leaving, so I pushed him away as much as possible, and the more I tried to push him away the tighter he held on. That all changed when I was nineteen and my dad was diagnosed with cancer, suddenly I wasn’t angry with him anymore; I just wanted my dad to be okay. Dad’s battle with cancer would dominate the last ten years of his life.

My dad always kept a box of chocolate covered cherries in the refrigerator, (That way the chocolate was a little firm and the cherry filling was thick and gooey instead of runny and messy), but I didn’t know until I was in my twenties that dad kept the cherry chocolates in the house so that he could curb his drinking. Dad only drank beer, but he realized that even beer should have a limit. So, when dad reached the limit that he set for himself, he would have cherry chocolates in place of another beer. That was actually a very good strategy, and it worked for him. Dad’s been gone for over twenty-five years now and I still can’t look at a box of chocolate covered cherries without thinking of him.

Being an ex-navy guy, dad was very neat and tidy. He wasn’t a bit lazy; he worked around the house, and he was a much better cook than my mom was; she admitted that too. He had a lot of good qualities. I wish I would have appreciated those qualities when he was alive as much as I do now. The things that I resented about him back when I was young; I have come to be very grateful for now that I am older. He held on tight because he was just protecting his baby-girl that he loved so much.

My dad and I would go out for dinner one night a week, and he would always tell the waitress that he was on a date with his sweetheart. At the time I could have died of embarrassment because he would say that, but that little phrase became something so dear to my heart, I would have given anything to have heard him say that one more time and recorded it.

My dad was a funny little fellow. He would make digs about the fact that I was overweight, it was humiliating, but when I got up in to my teens, if I uttered a word about wanting to get my weight down, my dad would make a b-line for the local bakery and bring home fresh cream puffs and chocolate éclairs. He was afraid some boy would come along and take away his baby. That’s another thing that I look back on and it brings a smile; not the digs about my weight, but how obvious it was that he was afraid to lose me. I think that’s probably where the negative remarks came from as well, was that fear. I wish I could have understood how much my dad loved me, but it’s hard to understand the magnitude of that kind of love. I understand that love now because of my own son.

I wish I could have lived my life in reverse, and known everything back when I was growing up that I know now. I wouldn’t have taken so many things for granted about my dad. I would have loved to have appreciated back then, all the things that I now appreciate about him. He was a lot like the chocolate covered cherries that he kept in the fridge; he was seemingly firm on the outside, but he was a gooey big-hearted softy on the inside. I Really miss him.

Have a blessed Father’s Day!

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