Saturday, June 16, 2012

My daddy

That's my daddy. 

That's what I always called him--daddy--not dad, or pa, or pop, just daddy.  Even though I was 26 years old when he passed away, he was still "daddy"  to me.  He and I were "like two peas in a pod" my mom always said--sometimes in ways that were good, and sometimes not!  We were both Hoffmans through and through, she told us. 

When I was little, I was quite crabby in the mornings.  Apparently, so was daddy.  Mom told me that she couldn't change him since she hadn't raised him.  However, she was raising me and she could change me.  Since I was sort of scared of my mom, I figured it was the prudent course of action to do what she wanted.  From that time on, I was perfectly happy in the mornings, and if I wasn't, I kept my mouth shut and pretended that I was!

Daddy and I shared a love of reading.  Even though he was always very generous with his money (especially where I was concerned), he truly never scrimped when it came to buying books.  Never did I ever go in a bookstore with him, that we didn't come out without a bag of books.  Even though we both loved to read, we didn't read the same kinds of books.  He was into westerns, and I loved science fiction.  I don't really remember ever conversing with him about books that we read.  It was  nice just knowing that we shared the same love of the printed word.

I have so many fond memories of my daddy.  One of the things I remember most about him, and most admire, is how much he loved my mom!  Every now and then, he would call home during the day.  If, for some reason, she wasn't home, and he couldn't find her in a little while, he'd get frantic.  I remember once, he even drove home when she hadn't called him back.  She was outside working in the yard. 

Every year on their anniversary, he'd send her a huge arrangement of roses.  On Valentine's Day, he'd get her one of those big, frilly, lace-decorated boxes of chocolates--the kind they don't make anymore.  At Christmas, the space under the tree overflowed with gifts for her.  Those were just outward shows of his affection for her.  Inside, where it really counts, he loved her even more.  When she was in the hospital once when I was in college, I came home to help out.  I've never seen a more desolate person than my father when he was at home without mom.  I remember his sitting in the den (which he never did; he usually stayed in his study and read, while mom watched television in the den) and just staring at the screen.  I think I could have had a party in the room and he wouldn't have noticed.  He was happiest when she was by his side!

Daddy had a rough start in life.  His family didn't have a lot of money; he didn't even go to high school.  Once he and my mom married, things were still not easy.  He was in school for the first 11 years of their marriage.  Once his career was established, however, he delighted in doing the things he'd never been able to before.

He discovered a love for travel, and never stayed at home if he didn't have to.  When I was young, our station wagon was the favored means of travel.  As I grew older, and daddy's career became better-established, we took some overseas vacations.  His favorite means of travel, though, was his motorhome.  He bought the first one when I was in junior high school.  As the years progressed, each new motorhome got bigger and fancier.  We went everywhere in them--at last tally, we went to all fifty states (although, admittedly, the trips to Alaska and Hawaii were of the more conventional airplane variety).  Oh, how he loved his motorhomes!  He bought the last one only five months before his death.

When I scanned the picture above for this post, I took a minute to really look at the picture.  Daddy has been gone for close to 23 years now.  I was disturbed to find, that when I really looked at the picture, his features seemed almost unfamiliar.  It's been so long since I've seen anything but a picture of him.  Would I know him if, by some miracle, he came up to me on the street?  That's the worst thing about losing someone--forgetting first the little things, and then the big ones.  It can't be helped, I suppose.  Life goes on, and those who remain have little choice but to go with it.

What I will never forget is how much I love him--still--and how much he loved me.  When I was little I always told him, "You're the best daddy I ever had."  It's still true today.  Daddy, I love you!  Happy Father's Day!