Not a day goes by that I don’t think about my Dad. From the moment I remember remembering, I remember my Dad.
He was in the Navy when I was born… out-to-sea. My Mom was staying with his parents on their farm in Michigan when I arrived on a bristling cold October morning. My Dad wouldn’t hold me for 3 weeks.
I wish I could remember that. According to my Mom, I became Daddy’s Little Girl at that very moment.
I loved to hang around with my Dad. He could figure out anything. He loved to build things. He loved to read. He loved helping me with science projects. He knew things that I could never figure out how he knew. I have hundreds of memories of helping him do things. He could fix anything…
He could fix anything.
But one thing I’ll always remember him fixing was when I moved into a dorm with a stranger.
I spent my first semester of college commuting from home. The dorm situation was one of over-crowding, and since my college was about a half-hour commute from home, I chose to commute. I didn’t mind commuting, but I also wanted to experience dorm living.
I got my opportunity to do this second semester. There was an opening in one of the girls’ dorms (back in the 70’s, there were no co-ed dorms!). I took the spot.
I remember packing up all my stuff… and my Mom and Dad spent an entire Sunday helping me get my stuff to the dorm, haul it up the stairs, clean my half of the dorm room, get set up and get settled.
I had never met my roommate, and she didn’t show up on that move-in Sunday until well into the evening.
I remember her unlocking the door, staring at me, plopping her things on her bed… never saying one word.
Her side of the room was a disaster. I had never seen anything like it.
I am a neat-freak.
This was her room.
I was an interloper.
I can’t begin to describe the condition of the little bathroom in that dorm… also shared by 2 other girls on its opposite side. I know my Mom had been in there cleaning it… but even my Mom couldn’t begin to remedy its nastiness.
I had made the decision, though, to stay there and work things out.
I slept in my dorm the first night. Well, I didn’t sleep. My roommate blasted her music all night, chain-smoked cigarettes and opened the window wide into the cold January night air.
But the next morning was my turning point.
When I turned on the bathroom light, there in the sink was a wad of long, black hair staring at me from the sink. I honestly gagged.
But I did my bathroom stuff, I collected my books, I went to all my new classes, I called my Dad at around 4:00, he came to pack up my stuff and he moved me out of that dorm.
I remember that ride back home on the dark January night… my Dad driving… telling me that he was proud of me for making the decision to leave that hell. He and my Mom were horrified to leave me there in the first place… but they wanted to me make the decision.
There was never a moment in my life that I didn’t feel a sense of rescue if I needed it… and that night was one of the biggest of them.
I never saw my “roommate” again. Ever.
But the next semester, I did move into a dorm suite… with the most wonderful girls a college girl could know.
I thank my Dad for giving me the independence to know when I needed to be rescued.
That was my Dad.
He would suffer a heart attack and die in August, 1975, suddenly and unexpectedly… and that’s something that no-one can fix.
Happy Fathers’ Day, Dad. I love you and I always will…