Ms. Lee was happy today, her soft curly hair was pulled back into her usual bun. As she sat there in her favorite rocking chair out in front of the Cracker Barrel the sunlight danced across her smiling face. I couldn’t help noticing that she had that childlike sparkle the one that lets me know she is thinking of her daddy. Ms. Lee is an eighty-two year old black woman who grew up in Mississippi. She has Alzheimer’s.
As she sat there rocking back, and forth in her rocking chair I knew she was no longer eighty-two years old. She was eight years old, and her daddy was coming home for a short stay. You see “daddy was a Pullman porter for a railroad whose home base was in Nebraska. He was often away from home working, but in 1942 this was considered to be a high-ranking job within the black community. Ms. Lee’s entire demeanor changed as she sat there looking out across the Cracker Barrel parking lot.
I knew in her mind she sitting on the front porch of her childhood home anxiously awaiting daddy’s arrival. She told me that she had to keep her eye out for him so she could let momma know. Momma was inside the house cooking daddy’s favorite meal. She told me she wished daddy didn’t have to always be away from home so much. I told her that it must be very hard to have him away so much. She gave me her big girl nod, and smile. She said “It’s okay daddy does this so that he can take care of us. He loves us, and he wants us to have a better life.”
She was beaming with pride, and she continued her fast paced rocking I noticed her eyes searching the view before us, the face of every person who walked by us.Then her fast paced rocking slowed a bit, and she looked up at me with the kind of expression a child gives when they have a secret they want to tell you. I smiled back, and told her “A penny for your thoughts.” She giggled, and said “Daddy always brings me a surprise!”
I asked her what kind of surprise?”Her entire face was lit up with excitement, and she said “Daddy brings us candy, he brings us Bit O’ Honeys!” I repeated “Bit O” Honeys” with great envy which made her giggle even louder. Then she said “Do you know why Daddy brings me those?” I said “No why?”
She stops her rocking, and a shyness crosses her face before returning to its blinding beam. Then she says “Because daddy calls me his bit of honey!” Then with her giant childlike face she begins to rock again. I am always so moved by this particular memory. I love knowing that in an instant her failing mind has the ability to transport her back to such a warm memory. Ms Lee is eighty-two years old, and she is still a “Daddy’s Girl” 😉
There is two of us actually, G-uno and g2. We have been friends for a while, met through our own similarities in duality, openness and love of listening. Our differences as well as our similarities always border on the extreme.