Just driving down the street to fill my car with gas the other day brought tears to my eyes as memories of my Dad came flooding back to me. The anniversary of his death is coming near. My Dad was my hero but not because he invented something world changing and not because he discovered a cure for the common cold. My Dad was a country boy. In my eyes he could do anything. He found joy in simple things and taught me to do so as well. He always had a smile, a laugh, a hug. As I drove down the street with my car windows open, I saw a bit of smoke in the air and heard the crackling sounds of a brush fire well controlled in the neighbor’s yard and smelled that oh so familiar smell. The smoke didn’t bring tears to my eyes, though. It was the memories from long ago.
One of my favorite memories is really just a small thing and yet I can remember it so well now as decades have passed and I am that 6 year old again. I can hear the sounds from that day long gone, can smell the aromas that marked the day, and feel the textures. Daddy was out in the yard raking leaves. We had lots and lots of them as the yard and neighborhood were filled with trees and it was autumn. The lovely colors were turning to rust as the leaves dried out and fell from the trees and he had a huge pile of them ready to burn. I watched. I can hear the squeak of the rake against the hard earth. I can hear the crunch of the branches and dried brush under my feat. I watched from the stairs as the pile grew higher and higher. Finally Daddy was satisfied with his progress and went into the cellar to get a hose and some matches to burn the leaves and put out the fire. As he disappeared from view, I saw my opportunity
Jumping up from my watchful spot on the stairs, I ran to the pile of leaves and leaped into the pile! As I did, the leaves flew into the air and I landed on the soft pile and then leaped up again and again! Each time I landed back down into the soft, dry leaves, I swung my arms about me and giggled with joy as the leaves flew higher and higher into the air then fell back to land on my nose, in my hair, and scattered about the yard! It seemed to me at the time that Daddy must have been having trouble finding that hose because I had plenty of time to leap for joy in the pile of leaves! Looking back, I am older now than my Daddy was then and I know he must surely have been standing nearbv and watching me. Maybe he was remembering the small boy he used to be and remembering my Grampa doing what he was doing.
Daddy had to do a lot of the raking all over again after my time spent playing with the pile of leaves was over. I remember it all so well. I don’t recall getting scolded, though, nor even frowned at. I only recall the grin on Daddy’s face as he came from around the corrner of the yard carrying the hose and box of matches. I can hear his laughter even now.
I love you, Daddy!