If my father had lived, today would be his 95th birthday. He's been gone for over ten years, but I still miss him.
And as a true child of the South, I called him Daddy.
He was born during WW I. His father died when he was four, leaving his mother with him, his younger sister, a crippled aunt, and his blind grandmother to support. Somehow they made it through those hard early years and then the Depression hit. They persevered.
He went to war in WW II and we're still not quite sure what Daddy did during the War. He let it drop one time that he had to write letters to his mother for weeks ahead because he wouldn't be where she thought he was, and that he had met Ike and Winston Churchill.
He came home from the war and found a job. A few years later, he met my mother, who was ten years younger. He fell in love at first sight apparently--she wasn't so sure because he was an "older man." She finally came around to his point of view. They were married for 48 years.
In that time he worked for the same company for decades, bought his dream house, had two children, then doted on his two grandchildren. His ancestors came from Wales, and he had a glorious bass singing voice. Actually, he had considerable voice training before the war broke out and he was called up. He had a wicked sense of humor, a strong sense of responsibility, and a desire to continually better himself. He was a voracious reader, especially history and biographies, and literally wore out his library card. He created the best Saturday morning breakfasts ever, he loved Christmas and Thanksgiving and any other holiday that brought the family together, and he took care of everyone.
Sadly the last few years of his life were difficult. After a series of mini-strokes, he was diagnosed with senile dementia and he forgot who we all were. He knew we were supposed to be familiar, but he couldn't quite place us. We missed him and mourned him for years before his physical body finally stopped.
But, as the years have gone by, those hard times have passed away and we remember the Daddy who read to us for hours at a time, acting out the characters. We still hear the booming bass voice singing in the choir and around the house. We can almost hear his voice as he figured out the best route to go when heading on vacation (we never went to the beach or the mountains--we always travelled to historical sites and significant places). We remember the gentle hands that cradled his grandchildren and the smile on his face as he talked to each of them as if they could understand every word--and I sorta think they did.
So, Daddy, I think of you almost every day and wish you were still here as you were when I was little and you called me Cottontop because of my curly, blond-almost-white hair.
(However, I have to admit, I do not miss being called Cottontop, loudly and in public, when I was a grown woman with children of my own. Somehow fathers never quite believe their baby girls ever grow up.)