Daddy Waves to Me

“When my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will take me up.” Psalms 27:10


     “Take that little illegitimate kid of yours and get out,” Daddy said.


     He screams this at Mama every time he gets mad. I don’t know what it means, but Daddy only says it when angry. It can’t be good. It’s after he drinks a lot, but sometimes, like today, he’s not mad; he’s mean.


     A girl from school told her mother about me wearing the same clothes. Her mother called. “Would you be offended,” she asked, “to accept a bag of my little girl’s outgrown clothes?”

“NO,” Mama told her, “we would appreciate them.”

The lady dropped the clothes off, and I’m having so much fun going through the bag.


     “Oh, Mama, look at this one; it’s yellow, with many ruffles and a big bow in the back. ai generated, little girl, childhood-8606784.jpgCan I try it on now? Daddy will think I look pretty.”

Mama helps me into the dress and fixes my hair so I can model for him. When I walk into the room, Daddy looks at me and says, “Hey, Wanda, you look like a movie star.” Then he laughs and says, “Yeah, Lassie, you look like you combed your hair with an egg beater.”


     Nothing I do ever pleases Daddy. He seems to enjoy making me cry. Like Mama, I can’t help it if I have natural curly hair. Maybe Daddy doesn’t like me because I’m the oldest. Mama had me before she met Daddy, and I was so tiny that he’s the only Daddy I know. My two brothers, Ronnie and Rodney, and two sisters, Penny and Rena, are happier when Daddy’s not here. All Daddy has to do is look at Penny real mean, and she starts crying.


     Because he’s so stubborn, my brother, Ronnie, seems to make Daddy the maddest of all. Mama said they’re both so much alike in the stubbornness part. Ronnie does things he knows he’s NOT supposed to do. Daddy gets mad and locks him in that dark room where he develops all his pictures. Ronnie is terrified of the dark, so that’s where Daddy puts him. Ronnie wouldn’t be there if he’d promised not to be bad anymore, but Mama said he wouldn’t satisfy Daddy.


     Daddy locked him in there again, and I could hear Ronnie screaming.

“Help, help, let me out!”

Ronnie should have known better than to throw his train down the hole in the outhouse. Daddy lets him scream for a while. Finally, he opens the door and asks, “Okay, do you think you can be good now?”


     Ronnie stops crying only long enough to say, “No.”


     So, Daddy slams the door and locks it again. Ronnie starts back up by screaming, only louder.


     We all have fun when Daddy’s gone. Mama spends time alone with us. We all play “Hide the Button or “Beast, Bird, or Fish.” Sometimes, Mama plays the guitar. She uses a knife to play it and does an excellent job. She plays piano, too, all by ear, and it sounds so pretty when she plays the Black Hawk Waltz. We love to sit around and listen to Mama sing old Indian songs and recite poems. We all have a lot of fun together. Until Daddy comes home.


      We usually have the entire evening because Daddy only comes home once the bars close. He stumbles in and orders Mama to leave bed and cook a steak for him. After he eats it, the fighting starts. Things get louder and louder until Daddy hits Mama, and he screams, “Take that little illegitimate kid of yours, and get out!”


     Mama takes me outside, and we hide until Daddy passes out. Then we sneak back in and climb into bed. I don’t know why Daddy doesn’t like me. I try to be as good as possible so he won’t get mad at me. I want to watch Father Knows Best, and I wish I had a daddy who would care about me and call me his little princess. Daddy is never that nice to the other kids, but I always feel like he’s even meaner to me. Isn’t a daddy supposed to love all of his kids the same?


     I’m older now and finally figured out what the bad words mean. Mama left Daddy after twenty years of abuse. My brother, Rodney, surprised us one day when he walked in the door and made an announcement. “Hey, guess what?” He said, “I asked Jesus into my heart today. Some lady from church stopped by and talked to me. Then she asked me if I wanted to get saved. I said, “Yes.”


     “Oh, I’m sure,” Mama said.


     But it wasn’t long before, one by one, all of us followed and asked Jesus to come into our hearts too. The Lord changed all of our lives and gave us joy each day. God even helped us to forgive Daddy.


     Life happened, and now Daddy is nearing the end of his life. He’s in the hospital, looking old, tired, and weak. He can’t eat or drink on his own, and he’s hooked up to life support. Penny and I are visiting him. We’re all praying for Daddy to ask Jesus to forgive him, too. Penny is talking to him, telling him how to get saved.


     “Will you ask Jesus to forgive your sins and to come into your heart too?
We want to know that we’ll all be together again someday in heaven.”


    Daddy cannot speak, but a tear rolls down his cheek as he listens. Penny takes Daddy’s hand.


     “If you want to do this, squeeze my hand.”


     Penny’s heart races like mine as we watch Daddy squeeze her hand.


      We cry joyfully, but the nurses tell us that the visiting hours are over and it’s time to leave.


     Penny and I tell Daddy goodbye for the last time here on earth. We know we’ll see him again, someday, in heaven. He looks so frail as he waves to us from his hospital bed. Knowing he’s only waving to his daughter, Penny, I let her walk ahead. Then, I turn and peek back around the curtain. I’m the only one he can now see.


     My heart almost bursts when Daddy man, hand, gesture-32744.jpgwaves, just to me.


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