When traveling, I like to bring back a little something that will remind me of the place or the experience. The last time I visited Kentucky, my dad took my family to Fort Boonesborough. I’m not a history buff like my husband and daughter are. I went for the time with my daddy. That trip a handmade piece a pottery to fill with my daily java traveled in my luggage back to Colorado. When I use that cup, I always think of that day. We ate Barbeque at a picnic table, walked in the footsteps of those who were here long ago and spotted a gorgeous yellow flower on a popular tree. Later my son sketched the petals for my dad. My dad has the original and I have the print. I love that piece of art and so does my dad.
This trip to Kentucky, I went alone. My dad turned seventy -four in July. My dad and I have had our ups and downs over the years, some of it I’ve caused and other times I haven’t. In the end it doesn’t matter. This year my dad bought me a bamboo hat rack, he gave me a teapot that he had excess of, and I found some gifts along the way for my husband, my son, and my son-in-law. This week my table arrived. The solid wood piece is tall and long and I’ll be able to fit bar stools underneath it. It now sits in my kitchen where people will gather around it. I’m really excited about the table. But things are only things. You can’t take them with you when you go.
The most precious item I brought back isn’t tangible, but it is the most important, memories. I brought back many that are filled with love. The time that I spent with my daddy was priceless. I spent eight full days with him, ten if you include the travel days. I had his undivided attention most of the time and shared him with his kind, loving and caring significant other Debbie.
Okay the real truth; I did have to share him with Cleo, his mastiff, who I’ve nicknamed Sister, and the four cats, Bones, Tom, Fletcher, and Francis. Francis is sick and she will not get better. She is my favorite because she needed more love, which allowed me to love more. Don’t tell Cleo. (And now everyone knows why I have four dogs.)
I’m very blessed. Except for my father, my side of the Duff clan lives in Colorado and we are close. My mom is a few miles away and even though I don’t see her everyday, I could. I know she is there if I need anything and I’m glad she has all of her children in the same state so that we can take care of her when she needs it. My dad does come to Colorado four times a year. It’s great when he is here. But he has seven kids and nine grandkids that he needs to see so getting time with him alone is hard. It would be selfish to hoard his time.
On my much needed vacation to Kentucky, every morning that I shuffled to the kitchen for my tea, my daddy was there. When you are young, you take that for granted. We didn’t do a ton, which was exactly what I needed and wanted. I was able to edit my manuscript, read a book, watch too many episodes of Once Upon a Time, eat thick Chris Duff (my dad) milkshakes every night, run errands, really look at sunsets, spend hours at antique stores without rushing because my dad loves them more than I do, go to doctor’s appointments, cook, and eat. I not only was taught how to make beef stroganoff, my daddy made it for me and I had it for breakfast the day I left to come home. I need to make that for dinner this week.
And every night he told me he loved me. I didn’t literally get tucked into bed as that would be seriously weird, but each night I got my hug and kiss.
When he dropped me off at the Cincinnati airport, I got the hug of a lifetime and I clung on tight. I don’t believe this will be the last time I see my dad, but it may very well be the sweetest memory of time I will ever have with him. It was precious because I will always know how much daddy loves me.
As for the table, it will be my everyday reminder of the time I spent with my daddy, not that I need it. The memories are tightly held in my heart. And I’m thinking we probably get to take those when we go.