|On My Own
By Darcey Dodd
Looking out on the eve of All Saint's Day, I faintly hear familiar words. "Dad, will you make me a bowl of ice-cream?" His reply was always the same. "Poof! You're a bowl of ice-cream!"
And then there was, "Eat your vegetables, Darcey. They'll put hair on your chest."
He always made me giggle. And he always taught me something new.
My first fishing trip ...
My father, in his strappy brown leather sandals, navigated as we putted along the shoreline in our dinky three-seat silver motorboat until we found the perfect spot. I was barely big enough to hold the rod, and he would smile while handling the slim;y worms I thought too icky to touch. I tuned in to his every word while he instructed. It seemed like a lifetime before anything stirred.
Finally, the first unsuspecting floppy one took hold, practically pulling me overboard. My four-year-old eyes lit up and my father, holding me in the vessel, was proud.
My first sport ...
I was seven when we drove to a green field lined with boys in shorts and shinguards. "Go get em," he told me, knowing his little girl could be just as tough as the others with a soccer ball. I was, and soon my father was my coach.
Over the years my coach was tough. "Don't back down from them, Darcey," he would yell, sometimes making me the example. "Get in there and get that ball!"
On the way home, my coach always turned back into my dad, telling me he was proud.
My first dance ...
During my teen years, I saw another side of my father. At a wedding, he dragged me out on the floor, grinned and said, "Just follow my lead."
"Oh no," I thought when I saw him close his eyes and make his silly dance face while holding my hand and swaying his hips almost like Bill Cosby.
I thought I'd die right there, cherry-colored face and all.
Then, he twirled me around and around until I felt dizzy and like the belle of the ball.
From that moment on, I was never uncomfortable dancing with my father, even laughing hysterically with him as he dipped me.
When I became of age, my father showed me the ways of the world and of business.
"Always leave work at the office Darcey. Don't take it home," he said before biting into his submarine sandwich we shared for lunch my first day at the family business.
Over the next seven years, he toughened my skin and showed me the ropes. They were not easy years. Some days were tense and others were playful.
Just as he'd said, work was work, and my boss by day remained my father by night.
I could always count on my dad.
Even on those snowy early morning hours when I called in the wee hours for a sober chauffeur to drive my friends and me safely home.
He never got mad. Once in a while, he took us out to devour eggs and pancakes.
Through every bellyache, heartbreak, flat tire, business and personal decision, through every tear and cheer of my life, my father's always been there holding my hand. With him in my corner, I've always felt strong.
Now, for the first time in my life, I stand alone.
Just like that, he was gone.
No coach to tell me how to do it. No more twirling me on the dance floor while making the funny dance face. No piña coladas in the islands and making fun of the Hawaiian shirt he always wore. No walking me down the aisle. No singing my unborn babies to sleep. No more proud moments.
When he took his last breath a few weeks ago, I know my father was proud of the daughter that still hates touching slimy worms.
I only hope he knew how proud his little girl was of her fishing instructor, her coach, her boss, her protector, her father.
Darcey Dodd is a long-time Bay Weekly contributor. Her father, Douglas Glenn Dodd, died of a sudden heart attack Oct. 10. [In Passing, Bay Weekly Oct. 19-25: Vol. VIII, No. 42].