Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Home is my daddy

The backyard seemed so much larger when I was a kid.  I miss the big peach tree that was cut down when my father decided to expand the house to make room for me and my two sisters.  The garden was the highlight of the neighborhood.  Those flowers were my father’s passion.

So much has changed since then.  Gone is the creek that surrounded the yard and the white picket fence in the front yard with red roses to accent the only home I ever knew growing up.  It seemed like a mansion back then.  It was more than enough to satisfy the needs of a boy who absorbed lessons about life and family from a man who worked hard to make sure nothing was missing.

So much has changed.

Since Saturday, I’ve stayed in the house that my father brought for his wife and three children.  I’ve been sleeping in the bedroom in the back – the one built for my two sisters.  My oldest sister, Sandra, is in Kansas City now.  My baby sister, Crystal, died in 1977 at the age of 13. Yesterday was her birthday.

So much has changed.

My mother lives two hours away, and my dad is enduring rehabilitation at The Neighborhoods at Tigers Place.  Yesterday, he began walking on his own again.  His steps toward recovery are an inspiration.  His fight to overcome all odds has always been my source of strength.

So much has changed. 

I see the sadness in his eyes.  I also hear a voice determined to keep moving – one step at a time –to make his way back to his home on Dean Street.  The red roses and garden in the back are gone.  The basketball goal he placed on top of the garage for me to play with my friends is no longer there.

The silence is consuming.  I watched as a squirrel jumped from one branch to the next from the  tree my dad planted in the backyard when the big one was chopped down.  Thoughts of Ranger, my German Shepard, came to mind as I watched the fat squirrel leap. I remembered the day Ranger died.  His howl from the creek told me he was trapped somewhere among the foliage on the other side of the fence.

I sat in the big chair in front of the television and imagined my dad listening to the blues.  I always wondered what was on his mind when he listened with his eyes closed tight.  Maybe it was a memory from work, or thoughts of a better day.  I would watch him from a safe distance - close enough, but not close enough.

So much has changed.

 The wood floors have been replaced by carpet.  The pictures on the walls are the same, but the absence of children playing outside is clear evidence that things have changed for the worse.

The neighborhood where it was once safe to keep doors unlocked is now a haven for drugs and violence.  Dean Street is like so many communities across America – a dumping ground for bad habits and unfulfilled dreams.  The sign of death is everywhere.  The worst part is the people there lack the strength to dig out from the dung. 

It’s my father’s home.  Moving him is not an option.  Home was built with hard work at the insurance company not far away from Dean Street.  He paid the bills by sweeping floors and saving money by hunting and fishing.  Home is more than a place to sleep at night.  Home is what you make on your own.

So, how do you go back to a place transformed by the madness of those on the outside?  How do you go back when all the memories have been taken away?

Home is not the neighborhood.  Home is not the tree in the backyard or the roses in the front.  Home is daddy at the rehabilitation center working hard to go back to the home built with his own sweat.

So much has changed, but the most important thing is the same.

Home is my daddy.

1 comment:

  1. This is a beautiful sentiment and I'm happy to know that your father is moving toward recovery.