Wednesday, February 11, 2009

For the Love of Papa

My stepdad, Darrell, has been the father-figure in my life. I didn't always get along with him, but as I grew, so did our relationship. He was, after all, the guy who always slipped me a twenty dollar bill whenever I batted my eyelashes and implored, "Pleeeease!!" He was the one who gave me the Dad-esque disappointed silent treatment when I was making wrong decisions. He was the one who walked me down the aisle and let me hold onto him for dear life as he gave me away. And he was the one on whom I perfected my sarcastic wit.

But poor Darrell. As much as we love the man, none of us have ever shared his interests. You see, Darrell is a good ol' Southern boy. He likes to hunt, fish, watch NASCAR, eat greasy home cooking, and work with his hands. And, well, as I was growing up, he was on his own in those pursuits.

He tried taking all of us camping once. Being city-slickers (or, really, suburbs-slickers), my mom, brother and myself opted to sleep in the van before we'd dare sleep with the ground only a layer of nylon away.

He tried taking my mom out to the fields when shooting pheasant a few times. She accompanied him, of course - but always under the condition that she could get a WiFi signal on her laptop and could find a nice spot in the sun to set out a folding chair for reading Wall Street trading books.

He tried taking my brother out fishing. My brother flat refused to pierce a worm with a hook, as this was inhumane. Actually, he flat refused to touch the worm in the first place, as they were slimy.

He tried taking me canoeing when we lived in Florida. I spent the entire trip crying for fear the boat would tip and we'd be immersed in murky waters that contained living creatures. Ick!

Eventually, he gave up on us and bought himself a companion. When I was in 8th grade, Darrell brought home a puppy - a German Shorthaired Pointer - and named her, Molly. But this dog was to be his dog. A real hunter. Fully trained to fetch fallen birds. She was to live in the backyard, was on a strict diet (no people food!) and was not to become accustomed to the comforts of an indoor dog. This lasted for a surprisingly long time until Darrell had to go out of town on business... When he came back, Molly was right at home as the family pet! In one weekend, we had spoiled her of training, invited her to live inside and found her new sleeping quarters in the middle of his bed. I had even taught her to sit on a kitchen table chair and eat food off my fork.

And that is how life was for Darrell. He never really had a chance against the three of us... until 2004.

April 29, 2004, Darrell finally found himself a friend weighing in at 6 lbs., 8 oz.

My child adores Darrell. And Darrell adores him. Everything Papa loves, the little man loves it too.

A few days ago, as I was getting Charlie ready to head out the door for the day, he turns to me and says, "Mom, you know who knows everything?"

"No, baby, who knows everything?" I ask.

"Papa does."

"Oh, yeah? He does, does he? Well, don't ever tell him that because I think I can hear his ego exploding a thousand miles away," and I scooted his little tushy out the door and into the car headed for school.

That night, we were chatting on speakerphone with Daddy who was out of town on business. Charlie accidentally hung up on him, and in trying to call him back, called Papa instead. There was some confused exchanges as they both figured out who was on the line, but once established, oh, how happy they were to talk to each other:

"Papa, you know everything," Charlie says.

"Well, I don't think I know everything. But, I know some things."

"Yes, you do, Papa. You know everything. You know everything about Jeff Gordon."

Papa laughs. (The ego is about to blow.)

"You know everything about fishing, too. And McDonald's! And Cracker Barrel!" adds Charlie.

Papa, incapable of resisiting such accolades, adds, "And golf!" (yup, there goes the ego...)

"Yeah! And helicopters!"

It only took twenty years, but Darrell has a very faithful and appreciative companion with whom to share all of his favorite things.

1 comment:

  1. Lady, you can write. This is a great story about Darrell. The second husband doesn't have it easy nor do the children of the first.