The second memory of my daddy. He sang or played the Tennessee Waltz. Every time I sing it to my sons or grandchildren, it was my way of bringing him into their life.
In my memory, I am sitting in his lap and I would see he was chewing gum. I would ask for a piece, he would laugh and say he did not have any in his mouth. I knew better! I would try to look in his mouth for the gum. He would tease me by putting it under his tongue and open his mouth. No gum! I would say to let me see under his tongue. He would switch the gum on top of his tongue. Man, that would get to me. You couldn't fool me, my four year old self would think, but he did. No gum for me! Just a daddy picking up his daughter while singing the Tennessee Waltz. I hope this really happened and not just a dream I conjured up throughout my childhood. I just hope it really happened!
My last few memories are getting on a bus with my mother. I wave at my daddy through the bus window. He waves back at me. I did not understand why we were leaving him. We went to my grandparents house. Little children hear everything. I hear that my daddy is asking for my brother. I wonder why he is not asking for me. I am hurt. My mother, brother and I travel to Jackson to see him in the hospital. He is very sick, he had tubes in his nose. I now know it was oxygen. Later, I am at my grandparents house. Everyone was sad and crying. Why I wonder? I hear my father died. What did that mean? Then, he was in a box, his arms across his body. I was confused and scared. Why was he there? Why didn't he move? His mother, my Mama H told me to kiss him goodbye. I did. He was cold. I was scared. Why was everyone so sad?
On the way to the cemetery, I remember being held by my brother. I feel safe. I feel love. It is raining. As we get out of the car, he is holding me tight as he ran to the tent. A time I should have been sad, I was happy being held by my brother. I was sad later, when I realized he was not coming back. I would never, for the rest of my life, have a daddy.