“How’s the yard look?” He’d say his eyes shining with pride. I could tell he was anxiously awaiting my verdict. “Wonderful” I’d reply after I gave it a thorough inspection. I would recite all the changes I had found and he would smile contently. Every year at the first sign of spring my dad would begin spending countless hours sprouting and pruning his yard so that when were able to make our first pilgrimage home his yard would be bursting with color. In 1972, he bought water front property on Okaloosa Island and worked diligently to turn it into our Vacation Oasis. His landscape boasted tall weeping willows, flowering shrubs and Italian Cypress trees. We live here in Greenville and went home frequently, always bringing with us vehicles full of friends and family.
While our guests were lounging around the in-ground pool, sun bathing, and generally enjoying their Florida vacation, you would always find us sawing at a tree limb, painting his house, or finishing his new hot project. We laughed and called it our “working vacation”. It became a joke amongst us that we would need a vacation after returning from this one. Our fellow workers were envious of the tans we sported when we returned to work picturing us lounging by the pool and drinking margaritas, if only they knew we were actually hanging 20 feet in the air while trying to saw berry branches out of palm trees.
In 1965 our mother was killed in a car accident leaving our father at the age of 35, alone to raise 3 young daughters Linda, Angie, and me. Life wasn’t always easy being raised by a man, but from him we learned respect, independence and loyalty. He influenced each of us in different ways. Linda inherited his leadership skills. Angie inherited his calming comfort allowing her the inept ability to make people feel comfortable and accepted. I inherited his strength which enabled me to survive and conquer major milestones in my life. We all have his smile, his pride and his belief that life is good.
It devastated us when we got the news he was terminal. We made sure he didn’t see any of us collapse. Later that day my dad and I walked to his dock, it was a warm sunny June day and we sat. I waited quietly to hear his take on the news. I desperately needed a lifeline. He started with “well, I set out in life to leave you girls some land and money and I have, so life is good, my work is done.” I waited for more, maybe some anger, maybe a sign of fear of the inevitable. But there was nothing else in fact he seemed content with his sentence. So we sat in peaceful silence and watched the sunset. It’s been 7 years and it has taken some major adjusting. But he is right….Life is Good.
Submitted by Anonymous
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