My Memories of Father - Short Story - Non-Fiction
The earliest memories I have of my father are around the age of two. He came into the kitchen and sat down at the table, tired and deathly pale. Mother sat with him and they talked. Although I have no memory of what was said, the pain in their faces is forever etched in my mind.
As I grew older I learned that my father had become very ill. Because he had served in the military he was sent to the V.A. Hospital, several hours away, where he spent three days undergoing various tests. After being diagnosed with diabetes, they provided him with numerous informative pamphlets, a bag of syringes, urine test strips, enough insulin for a month and strict orders to see his doctor on a regular basis. He was then put on a bus and sent home. He had no way to contact anyone, so from the bus station my sick and brokenhearted father walked the mile and-a-half home. He came into the kitchen sick, tired and pale and sat down. Mother was shocked to see him; she had received no word from the V.A. Hospital as to his condition or when he would be coming home. She was sick with fear and angry at the nonchalant way my father had been treated and sent home.
At such a young age I had no idea what diabetes was, but from that point on it hung like a black cloud over our family. It virtually controlled every aspect of our lives from that point on. Father’s very strict diet became the norm for us all, and was served at the same time every day.
Candy, cookies, cakes and pies were no longer allowed in our house. Sugar was banned and became an enemy to us all. Mother canned, pickled, and preserved everything we ate with the artificial sweeteners available at the time. Very little of what we ate was bought from the store.
Father was never a big man, as one might think of someone with diabetes. He was all of five-feet eight-inches tall and never weighed over 155 pounds. The disease was something he inherited and was a total shut down of his pancreatic functions, which meant it could be passed on to his children. This made mother absolutely paranoid and she forbade me to have anything made with sugar.
Being the apple of my father’s eye, as most girls are, my father would often take me with him to run errands. Everyone in our little town knew and liked my father and, as it is in a small town, Father would stop and talk with folks. Of course when they would see me they would offer me a treat of some kind, and I always politely declined.
Once, when I was three or four, the man who ran the auto parts store gave me a ’s Chocolate bar and would not let me give it back to him. Father could see that I was getting upset so he took the chocolate bar and put it in his coat pocket, “We’ll just save it for later.” He said with a wink and a smile. I was relieved; Father could take it home and throw it away, the man would never know, and I would not have to eat the contraband item. Hershey
When we got in the car Father pulled the candy bar out of his coat pocket, opened it up and snapped off a row of little brown squares. The smell that saturated the inside of the car was spell binding; I had never smelled anything so wonderful. Father handed me the row of squares and said, “Go ahead and eat it, it’s ok, just this once.” I took a small bite from the corner of one of the squares and the flavor flowed through my mouth like chocolate lava.
It was the most delicious flavor in the entire world! I noticed that Father snapped off a row of the candy and slid it in his mouth. He shut his eyes and smiled, enjoying the forbidden sweet. I was terrified, and when he opened his eyes and looked at me he laughed.
My eyes were as round as saucers; I just knew Father would drop dead on the spot from eating the candy.
“Shh,” he said, holding a finger to his lips, “This is our little secret. W e won’t let your mother know, ok?” His forehead was wrinkled and stern, but his mouth and eyes held a little smile. I nodded earnestly and polished off my row of chocolate. He broke off another row for each of us and we ate it giggling like two naughty children.
The rest of the candy bar was thrown out the window somewhere along the way home. This secret, along with other “candy bar secrets”, was kept between my father and me for many years. We didn’t often sneak a bite or two of forbidden sweets, but when we did, it was never spoken of to anyone.
Father’s Day has been an empty holiday to me for many years. I was 23 when I lost my father to the ravages of diabetes; he was only 49 years old. Although I was grown with a family of my own, my father’s passing left a huge hole in my heart and my life. I miss my daddy, I miss that he never saw two of my three children and was never given the opportunity to see them all grow into the beautiful people they are today. He wasn’t at my college graduation, nor did I get the chance to see the pride in his eyes when I took a job with the same company he had spent over twenty years with, until his illness made work impossible for him.
When I started writing this post for Father’s Day, I did so with the emptiness in my heart I normally associate this holiday with, and dreaded to even acknowledge it. But as I wrote about this memory of a little girl and her father sharing a secret, more and more memories tucked away in the back corner of my mind began to appear. I felt a smile creep its way across my lips as the hole in my heart began to fill up. Maybe as time goes by the moments I remember become more important than the loss I feel, not having my father here today.
Father was taken too early; no one can deny that. What he left behind are the memories I will always have. Sharing this memory has somehow made me feel like he is with me this Father’s Day and my heart is full.
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