Christmas morning on Harris Street always began with my sister begging me to get up so she could open presents. Mornings were not my thing. By the time she could convince me to get up, the house would be in full swing. Daddy would already have his Christmas albums playing vociferously, while his strong baritone voice carried over the volume. He would be dressed in his green Dockers, with his red sweater and Christmas tie, matching socks, along with his well-worn penny loafers. This was the one day of the year that daddy cooked, and he went all out. His dusty waffle maker would be going full force. He usually made about fifty waffles for the four of us and tried relentlessly to make us eat them all. As he rotated batches of burned and “not quite done” waffles, my mom, sister and I would giggle and watch with awe. He exuded happiness. On these mornings, he danced.
In the midst of cooking, he would take turns dancing with us. One by one, he would twirl his three loves around as he continued to sing along to his records. These memories fill my heart with an equal amount of happiness and grief, but I’m incredibly thankful for them. Memories make up the chapters of my life.
Yesterday, I sat with my mom on her deck, and we talked about happy things…lots of them. These moments are also few and far between, but also, magnificently special. We had mostly avoided the topic of daddy, maybe on purpose so we could avoid the inevitable tears, but of course, he came up during our conversation. How could he not? She told me a story that I had never heard before…a story from recent years, most likely his last summer with us. She said the two of them were at the beach for the weekend and they had decided to go to the Dollar General. Apparently they had good ice cream there. 🙂 While they were there, daddy chose a new tape for them to listen to in momma’s jeep. They finished their cones and walked outside to a beautiful sunset. They were parked on a side street. Momma said that a construction crew was across the road working on a house. Daddy put his new tape in the cassette player and blasted it as loud as the speakers would allow, and danced with momma in the middle of the street. Momma’s eyes glistened with so much love as she told me about the dance. They were in their own world for a moment. When the song was over, he kissed his love and the crew from across the street cheered and clapped. She said when he asked her to marry him, he added that dancing was not a part of the deal. But on occasion, he danced.