It’s been 4 years since dad’s been gone. Not gone gone, just physically gone, because every morning I smell his cigarette smoke by the east window of our bedroom before I head downstairs. I’ve asked him to say hi to me with his smell of old spice instead, but that hasn’t happened. Then again, he was always that kind of ornery.
Dad was on the USS Oriskany (nicknamed the mighty O )and the USS Kearsarge during his 4 years of service. He was what they call a ships oil king, aka boiler technician responsible for making sure the fuel and water levels were always consistent.
I look at this picture and wonder what he was thinking, what everyday life was like for him on the ship. He didn’t tell many stories of his time in the military, or much about his life at all… he loved a good joke, a delicious pie and his family but he was never one to talk about himself. I tell you though, I loved how amazing he was at just letting things go and no matter where he was, he was 100% himself.
The one story I remember him telling me was about being on the ship and keeping post at night. He said that the best way for him to stay awake through the night was to put a lit cigarette between his fingers down near the knuckles and so if he dosed off, the cigarette would burn down and when it got low enough it would burn his fingers and wake him up.
You ever have those moments when a fond memory rushes back into your mind as if you were just there? That happened to me a while back, vivid as day. I came downstairs and the memory of Pops frying eggs and making pancakes at this very stove swept over me so much I could smell the bacon.
Mornings were his favorite time of the day. I would come down the stairs and open the door into the kitchen. Standing at the stove, minding his artfully crafted breakfast would be Pops and he’d give me the most love filled and happy to see me, “Hiya baby girl!” And the follow up would always be the same, a good morning hug and kiss on the cheek, as if he hadn’t seen me in weeks.
Years have passed, but the love he gave me has never faded. The greatest honor was caring from him when he got dementia and being there for him till the end. Thankfully the sorrow of him passing has lifted, time has given me a chance to focus on all the blessings I was given with him in my life and not wallow in my loss.
I have peace knowing I’ll see him again, in God’s time, but boy do I miss his hugs. If you still have your dad here on earth would you give him an extra hug today for me?