I met this unforgettable character when I was just minutes old. This person means a great deal to me. He is still in my life, but not as I always remember.
My father and I did everything together. I was most definitely daddy's little girl. My father had all the typical dad features. He was big and strong and made our home feel safe. I can remember cuddling in his lap watching television. His arms were so thick and mighty. He made me feel very secure. I remember helping him plant the garden. My dad would push the shovel into the dirt and I would jump on it over and over until it was pushed down far enough. I'd always get tired, so I would go inside and bring out a couple of Freeze Pops for the two of us.
I can remember my dad taking me to the park frequently. We'd go to the park I called "Big Slide". He used to climb up the steps behind me, then go down with me. He'd hold on to my waist and just before the end of the slide, he'd pull me back so I wouldn't fall.
My father and I used to go fishing once in a while. I had my own plastic little, Fisher-Price fishing pole. He would help me east out and whenever he got a bite he'd tell me I caught it and help me reel the fish in. I remember we used to play miniature golf every Sunday unless it was raining. He'd help me tee off and aim. Then he'd put his feet around the hole so even if I missed, his feet would knock the ball in.
I remember one of my favorite treats was going to the Pie Plate. My father and I would get coffee (mine was chocolate milk in a mug) and a banana creme pie. He'd always let me order so I would feel like a big girl.
My father and I used to go duck pin bowling, too. Even though the balls are smaller, I could barely hold them in my small hands. He taught me to bend over and roll the ball between my legs. He'd try not to laugh as the ball would either head straight for the gutter or roll behind me.
I also remember when my father and I would go to Carvel's for an ice cream cone. He'd always order a chocolate cone and I'd order vanilla with colored shots. Another of my childhood memories was when my brother, father, and I would watch WWF wrestling and then have our own pretend match in the cellar. My brother and I would always beat him and he would shout out as if we were actually hurting him.
As I grew older, our relationship changed. He was no longer my daddy. He now became my dad. I knew he would still help me, but I began to need my mom more. My father and I were both changing. He became the rule maker and punishment-enforcer. I didn't mind this change, though. I knew it had to happen.
A couple years ago, my father's character changed again. This time the change was not expected. One evening after dinner, my mom, dad, brother and I got together for a little talk. That little talk became one of the most horrifying experiences of my life. I remember my parents telling us that they weren't going to stay together. I remember the shock that came over me and the massive flow of tears falling from my eyes. I remember my father saying that after 22 years of marriage, he single-handedly decided that it wasn't working. He was willing to give it all up just so he could be free. He didn't care anymore for our needs. I couldn't help but think why. Why would he do this?
That night was horrible and seemed to last forever. Days later, my daddy was out of our house. Instead of seeing him during dinner, all I did was talk to him on the phone. I was very upset with this new situation. I kept telling myself that everything would be all right.
I accepted the predicament, but then, it changed again. I understood that my father divorced my mother. He wasn't supposed to divorce me too, but that is exactly what he did.
I rarely talk to my father anymore. It's as if we've grown apart. I know I'm not the same little girl I used to be (I try), but he doesn't even try to be the daddy I used to know, and I will never forget. c
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.