"I brought my computer so I can play you some music, I know you're tired of this TV being on all day" He was awake, but he was long past the stage of speaking, so I didn't expect a response. But,somehow amist the pain and the haze of regular injections of morphine, I knew he heard and understood me. I plugged in my computer, positioned it on the table in front of the chaise lounge-style sleeper chair the nurses graciously placed in the room once they realized we would be spending each night there and searched my iTunes library for Anita Baker. My sister, sitting in the chair next to mine, smiled as her voice filled the room.
During our childhood, just about every summer vacation my family took, was to Mississippi. He was from there. My family is from there. I haven't been there for probably more than a decade, but it's still such a special place for me. On those road trips that seemed like forever, one of the main things my sisters and brother can all agree we remember, is my daddy playing Anita Baker the entire drive there. I am probably the only person on Earth who pictures the mountains somewhere in Kentucky or Tennessee when I hear You're the Best Thing Yet.
I don't know if you could say Anita Baker was his favorite singer (according to my mom it was Dionne Warwick), or if it was just kid appropriate music he thought he could actually enjoy the entire 12 hour drive. However, it seemed to relax him then and I wanted him to relax now. So, I choose to relive some of our past and I let it play. He was in too much pain to be touched, so I couldn't climb into his bed and lie on his chest as I did when I was a little girl. Instead, I just pushed my sleeper chair as close to the bed as I could and laid my head on the edge of the bed, and held his hand. I must have said "I love you, Daddy" at least 10 times. He kept opening his eyes wider and wider and then closing them, as if he had something to say but couldn't. It didn't matter though, we'd always said plenty, there was nothing unspoken, this blunt nature of mine came from him and we had said, if not it all, enough. The nurses came into the room and gave him more morphine and soon he drifted off to sleep. I let his hand go and laid back in the chair to try and sleep myself. Somehow, I was able to doze off only to awake in a panic gasping for air around 6am. I looked to my left and watched as his chest moved up and down while a wave of relief rushed over my spirit. I'd awaken my sister and the look on her face said she was scared too. Once again, I laid back down and closed my eyes. I didn't sleep, I just waited. Within an hour my sister gently touched my arm and when I opened my eyes tears were streaming down her face, she nodded and said, "He's gone"
That morning on Easter Sunday my father passed from this world into another. I can't see him any more and I can't touch him. I can only hear his voice through old voicemails and smile when I walk past any old southern man who smells of cologne and smoke from his Kools cigarettes.
My daddy was one of a kind, he was the kind of man women were fond of, and men wanted to be like. He was cool. Even my old college roommate saw my parents get out of that Navy Blue Riveria he drove for years for the very first time and said, "Your parents look like they would kick my parents ass", of course, I laughed. Finally, now I am starting to get to the place where I can smile and I can laugh when I think of him. I miss him of course, because I loved him, and that will never change. Time moves us forward and when I think of him at my Uncle's funeral sitting next to me watching as my cousins screamed and cried, I remember him turning to me and saying, "Don't y'all do that shit when I die". So, I think it's safe to say, as much as I'd like to scream, cuss and cry, he wouldn't want me to do that shit. (Well maybe he wouldn't care about the cussin'). In the future, I'll honor his memory at all of the times his presence is missed, as I am doing now, with my millionth attempt on really finding my voice via writing. It was only right this first post be about him. As a friend said to me after her father died, "Nothing makes you feel more like an adult than burying your parent". She was right. So, I guess by way of an unwanted right of passage, although I will always be a daddy's girl, I truly am a woman now.