This morning on my way to work… I heard a song that immediately transported me to a memory of my dad. It was Willie Nelson’s “City of New Orleans”. A catchy little tune about the journey of a train…. my dad loved that song. It took me back to a summer that we took a vacation in a RV all over Texas. And that Willie Nelson cassette made the journey; I’m sure that thing was worn smooth out by the time the trip was over. But that day – I was riding shotgun and he was singing and tapping along to the music and it was the best. day. ever. Anyway…. I got kinda teary listening to it this morning…. since it is Father’s Day weekend and Dad is now living his best life holding court in Heaven. And it reminded me of the blog post I’ve been trying to write for years now. Years. Wow. I never thought I’d be able to say years when talking about how long Dad has been gone. Cause some days – it still seems like yesterday.
I thought when Daddy passed I would be strong enough to speak at his funeral. I even wrote out my speech. Guess what? Nope. Nada. Ain’t happening. While cleaning one day, I found it. Folded neatly, tucked away in a basket under a cabinet. No doubt how it got there… I know it was my sweet husband… keeping it safe while protecting me from the sadness he knew it would bring. But sad wasn’t the prevalent emotion – it was guilt. On this pit stop on the lovely road of grief, I discovered I never really forgave myself for not having the strength to do it. I guess in a way I’ve felt that I let him down. So here goes nothing. FYI – it has taken months to complete this post…. because the cruel monster of grief still lingers in the shadows some days.
Wannie Roland Sprague. You’d better be his mama if you called him by his full name. Only she could get away with it. She gave him his sweet spirit and his belief that love could conquer all and unfortunately passed her love of humming to my sister. I just called him Daddy. And right now, all I can hear him saying is “It is what it is.” (Sidenote – we actually have this engraved on his tombstone and I KNOW he loves it) He passed from this life just like he wanted to in his favorite chair… He used to joke that one he would “Just assume the room temperature”. Kinda maudlin but that was Daddy. (Pause for crying fit)
He loved us. If he loved you – you knew it. And if he was here, he would line us all up and take us down the hall and wash our face – cause that always made things okay. He would always tell me “I know honey…. your feel bad feels bad” and yes Daddy it feels awful. If the face wash (water boarding therapy…lol) didn’t work, he’d cook you a side of beef… and I hope you like it rare, because it was gonna be… Just ask Ricky.
I waited 44 years for a man to love me like he loved my mama. He loved my mama beyond all reason. I finally found one and yes, he likes his beef rare.
As Pat Green sings… “My daddy was a mountain of man…” and he had a heart of gold. He always made sure we knew we were loved. He could talk to anyone and never met a stranger. Daddy possessed that uncanny ability to connect with anybody he came in contact with… He loved his friends and if you are one, count yourself lucky. There aren’t many Roland’s left in the world.
Our lives will never be the same, but I know he’s here. In the sun, the wind, my 727 tomato plants, the redbird that sh*ts on my deck chair every day… just in everything. I know He is on his cloud, with his family, singing in that deep voice that I so love. Continuing to watch over us each day and making sure we don’t ever cook that steak well done.
I only hope you have a Roland in your life. The one who is a constant rock, there no matter what you do, and loves you beyond reason. If you do, cherish them. Love them well. Let them know. It’s cliché, but life really is short. Put aside your petty differences and hold those you love you close.
And throughout your life just remember… “It is what it is”.
Whew. I did it. Lots of tears and edits but I did it. I hope it makes you proud Dad. I miss you so.
Happy Father’s Day Dad. Love you big.