By Lucy Winn Fuller
My father died 2 weeks before my 4th birthday. Mama said that I would wait for him by the big window in my grandparents’ living room. I would stare at the driveway waiting on him to arrive. This went on for weeks—endless waiting.
My mother and I moved in with my grandparents and lived there for several years until we were able to have a house of our own. I didn’t really understand the concept of death back then. I wasn’t supposed to. No child really should. I grieved in my own little way and carried on the best way I knew how. I was ok, considering the absence of my father. But with my mother working full-time, I became very aware that there was a parent missing.
The next best thing to a father, back then, was my grandfather whom I called “Main.” (When I was learning to talk I pointed at him and tried to say “man” but it came out “Main” and the name stuck.) Main was a WWII veteran and kept to himself most of the time. He found happiness in the great outdoors and appreciated all nature had to offer. He taught me that if something was broken, you fixed it. For his generation, throwing away broken things was unheard of. I’ve always respected them for that.
He also taught me that the only way to do something worthwhile was with your own two hands. He believed in hard work and nothing slowed him down. Not rain. Not thunder. Not even old age. In the last years of his life, he refused to live in a nursing home, because “who would take care of the house?”
Main was very quiet and reserved. He sat in his study at night and listened to the AM radio. He loved Auburn Football and The Andy Griffith Show. He never had much to say. I learned a lot from his silence. I loved and respected him but never felt a strong bond with him. He battled many demons that I knew nothing about. He suffered invisible wounds from the war – wounds that I could not understand at such a young age.
I was blessed with two tough women that raised me. I was not an easy child. I had a wild imagination. I also had a big heart—a big heart that was broken and would continue to break through no fault of my own.
Mema loved me. Oh, how she loved me. She raised me as her very own. She shared stories of her childhood. She confided in me about struggles with her very own father, which brought us even closer. We connected on a level that most young children and older adults seldom experience. I loved my Mema. Oh, how I loved her.
I still missed my dad. A dad. A father. Someone to play ball with me. Someone to take me hunting or fishing. I was so envious of all of my friends who had daddies. I would cry every Valentine’s Day when my girlfriends attended the daddy-daughter dance. I sat at home feeling sorry for myself and was so angry at life for forcing me to feel that way. I never had a dad to give a card to on Father’s Day. I didn’t understand why God took my Daddy away from me. It just wasn’t fair. God and I have duked it out many times.
God heard my cry when I was a young girl. He heard my prayers and blessed me the best way he saw fit. He sent me a step-dad. I had a hard time grasping the concept of a father and had no idea how fathers and children were supposed to interact, but I knew that this was not it. Fathers love their children and support them. They encourage and build them up. This man tore me down. He crushed my spirit to the point that I was a hollow shell. After the divorce, I was empty inside and so lost. I trusted no one and was taken advantage of time and time again in my younger years.
Fast forward to the present.
I gave birth to my second daughter in October of 2017. (In the back of an ambulance on Friday the 13th.)
It’s funny how God makes you work for things. Nothing worthwhile ever comes easy. I’m convinced if I had an easy childhood that I would have nothing to write about. It wasn’t until the early morning of Friday, October the 13th that I saw a true father for the first time.
A father rides behind a speeding ambulance while his baby is being born on Hwy 280. A father gets up in the middle of the night and warms a bottle so baby can eat and mama can sleep. A father kisses mama on the cheek and tells her everything is fine, because he doesn’t want her to worry. A father listens. He stays up until midnight night washing dishes by hand and doing laundry because mama is exhausted. A father loves both of his children equally even if only one is by blood. A father is patient. A father is kind.
I was raised by two strong women who did the best they could at being a Mama, a Mema, and a daddy. They raised me the very best they knew how. I went through being a single mom and know how hard that is. I failed more times than I can count and blame myself endlessly for my mistakes. I have thrown my fists at God and asked Him “why” on many occasions.
This is my why.
I waited 33 years to experience what its like to have a father.
As I sit by the window, I see a car pull in the driveway. It’s Jody.
I’m so thankful I don’t have to wait any longer.
Lucy Fuller is a lover of nature, animals, gardening, and old houses. She is a full time mother and wife. She currently resides in Opelika with her husband, two daughters, 3 dogs, and cat. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org