Daddy and me at the Walker Family Reunion in 2006.
The question posed: "What's a great memory of you and your father?" Again, the social media site I help moderate inspired another post here. And, my answer to the question is that I credit my love of nature to my father, who endearingly, walked me, as a child, hand-in-hand, at the end of long, hot summer Sunday afternoons, through our plot of family-inherited upstate South Carolinian land. We'd walk among the 100-year-old oaks and he'd explain how to identify their lichen-laced bark, their finger-like leaves, and the various ways they and other trees propagated themselves. I love trees. To me, they convey such strength and character. Such beacons of nature's beauty. And, they remind me of Daddy.
I also recalled the long-gone strength of my aging father, whom I saw this weekend. It was the annual Father's Day-coinciding weekend of the Walker Family Reunion. My mother, who died in December, was the next to youngest Walker sibling. Number seven of eight. Now, only Uncle Ray remains from the original sibling clan. Daddy was unable to make the trek to my cousin's lake house. The rest of my family ventured there, in his place.
And, later that night, our noses sun-kissed, our bodies beaten by buffet consumption and bumpy boat rides, we sisters gathered around Daddy after dinner. With a blanket atop, he laid on my eldest sister's sofa, worn out from the the short journey from his assisted living facility to her home. He looked into each of our faces, studied them sweetly and smiled. It was one of the countable moments of sanity he shared during the series of our Father's Day weekend visits.
After, we'd driven him back "home," gotten him into his pajamas and pulled the covers beneath is stubbled chin, my sisters and I sadly agreed that it might be the last father's day that Daddy would remember us, given his rapidly increasing Parkinson-related dementia. It was, of course, very bittersweet. We also agreed that we hoped he'd join our mother before another Father's day passed -- before he reached that potential state of not knowing us three daughters. He is already very, very confused about so much, including my mother's death -- waiting daily for her to come home from shopping.
In the meantime, we are grateful for the gift of sweet memories such as walking hand-in-hand across the yard and his giving us the forever gift of his love and his love for nature and thus our own.
*This post was originally published in 2009. Daddy is still living. He is using a wheelchair now and trips to my sister's are less. His body is more afflicted and so is his mind coupled with a cantankerous attitude. He finally did understand that mother is no longer living.