My daddy will be 78 on Saturday. Today it was my turn to take him to his radiation treatment for cancer. My sisters and I each spend one day per week giving Mom a break from caregiving duties and giving Dad a break from Mom’s nagging. Right now dad is in the chair with his head propped on his hand asleep resting from the treatment. On the way to the doctor we passed the house that we lived in when I was born up until I was in second grade. Dad said, “You remember that little brick house? All I can see is your face after the wreck you had on your tricycle.” I was two years old when I had that wreck and I remember it like it was yesterday.
We had gone on one of our many family bike rides, usually initiated by dad and we were on our way back to the house. I remember thinking I was going to go fast so I could beat everyone else and win!! I am just a tad bit competitive which obviously started at an early age. Any way I got to peddling real fast, tricycles of course do not have brakes, I was going so fast that my feet flew off the pedals and I lost control hitting the curb full force with my front wheel and it sent me whirling over the handle bars landing cheek first on the curb.
So my point was not to tell the story of the accident, but to recollect that seeing a house or hearing a song or something as simple as a smell can take you back to another time and the memories, good or bad associated with the trigger. When I look at the house that is where I recall sitting on the curb waiting on dad to get home from work. He would round the corner every day at 5:30, we would jump up and sometimes I would get to sit on his lap and steer the car into the driveway.
At the time our street had bushes and trees directly on the other side of the road and there was very little traffic. Dad would say, “Ok girls, who wants to go hit some tennis balls?” My sisters and I would jump up and we would go into the road and hit tennis balls back and forth losing more to those bushes than actually hitting but it was good family fun for us while Mama was inside cooking dinner.
While most of my childhood memories involve my mother, mainly because she only worked part time when I was little. I have many fond memories of my times with dad. I am the baby of the family; my sisters are six and eight years older than me. Therefore during this time when living in the little brick house they were pre-teen ages and didn’t have much to do with dad other than packing his lunch for work each day while rolling their eyes and complaining.
I was the lucky one because when he would still tuck me into bed I could always get him to tell me a story. Not a story out of a book either a genuine made up bedtime story with me under the covers drifting off to sleep and him sitting on the edge of the bed. They all started very similarly with, once upon a time there was a little girl named Deborah and she had a kitten and one day… from there the story varied but I never tired of hearing about Deborah and her kitten.
As a professional in the Early Childhood Education field I know the importance of dad’s being active in their children’s life. Most feel like it is more important for men to be active in their son’s life but as a daughter with only sisters I see what the effects of being raised by a positive male role model are for us.
We have all ended up with men who are very similar in nature to dad. They don’t raise their voice or their hands to us. They are family men who see providing for and protecting their families as important. They are very hands on dads, who are actively involved with their children and raising another generation of responsible adults.
So for all you dads out there, get out and make memories with your children. One day you may need to depend on them to care for you, if you have done your job right your child will care for you at the same level of quality that you did for them.
Deborah Howell is the Assistant Director of Partners In Learning. Her education includes an associate’s degree from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College in early childhood education and a bachelor’s degree from UNC Greensboro in human development and family studies with a concentration in birth-kindergarten. She also holds a master’s degree at UNCG. She also serves as a CBRS therapist for the center.