My Daddy is Still My Daddy
Yeah that’s me, bending down over on the right. So photogenic, right? Oh, and that’s my daddy, Rufus, with his tongue sticking out. Down South, we still call our dads, daddy. Not father, papa or anything else, just daddy. Well, at least we did and probably most of the kids I knew did, too.
You wouldn’t know it from the photo above, but my Daddy suffered from depression. He suffered from it a long time. Later on he was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. He wasn’t the best man. In fact, a lot of people hated my Dad. He not only pushed people away, but treated them badly. He could be very selfish and self-absorbed. Anyway, I always think about Daddy around Father’s Day. Not for the immediate reason you might think, “oh, it’s Father’s Day.” No, but Father’s Day was the week in 2002 that Daddy committed suicide.
They found him in his apartment after a couple of days because he hadn’t shown up to work. He’d shot himself in the chest with a shotgun. Bird shot. The sheriff’s deputy on the phone said it was obvious it was suicide. I couldn’t believe it, but I knew it was true.
I have so many vivid memories about that time. I remember at the funeral home when I went to claim his belongings, they told me, “You don’t want to see him. It’s not pretty.” By the time I arrived at the scene of the apartment, most of the horror of it all had been cleaned. I remember seeing the indention where he sat on the couch. His lunchbox was still sitting on the kitchen counter, all ready and still full of all his stuff. Even the message I’d left him on the recorder was still there. It was very eerie. It was like he was still there; like he left evidence of his presence. Of course, he did, but it took on new meaning after his death, knowing that he wasn’t coming back. It took me years to digest all of things that I experienced during that few days in June 2002.
My Dad was far from perfect, but I think I can understand more about why he did what he did now than I ever have. Life is hard to live. You can’t live it alone. You can’t live it for yourself. I’m not writing this for you to contribute to a charity that deals with suicide, though you can do that, if you are so moved to. I wanted to write this and share this with everyone because I want to honor my Dad and tell you to take every opportunity to love that comes your way. That’s the best thing I can do for him and you won’t regret it.