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Thanks, Dad, for all the memories

By By Paula Merritt / staff photographer
June 15, 2003
When I was little, about hair-high to the kitchen counters, I use to express to my dad how much I loved him by using animated gestures.
He'd tell me how much he loved me, then I would spread my arms as wide as I could and tell him, "I love you as big as all the dinosaurs lined up, as tall as all the giraffes stacked high."
Growth changes how you express your love for your parents. It doesn't change how much you love them, though.
My arms keep growing longer and longer. The love I have for my Dad stretches further and further.
A father is always there. He always takes time out of his own life to listen to his child. He always puts his troubles aside for his children. He always loves you more than you even think you love him.
That's why we have Father's Day.
My gift to you
For Father's Day, I want to let my dad know what all I remember at least a few tidbits to let him know how much I've loved him all my life.
My first memories date back to Citronelle, Ala. I was probably only 2 or 3 years old, but, I remember being outside and my dad was on a tractor. He was mowing the church lawn, I think? All I know is, I ran to him and he would heft me up and let me ride with him. I don't remember much about that tractor, but I do remember the joy I had riding on it with him.
When I was about 5 years old, we lived in Grenada. I had long curly hair and my dad was always the one brushing it for me.
One day while he was raking through the curls, he kept getting the brush tangled, and naturally I cried. At that point, I think my dad inadvertently said to my mom something about maybe I needed a haircut.
Well, one day when my dad got home, he wanted to know who the little boy was in the tree outside in his front yard. My mom had to tell him, "It's your daughter."
I have no recollection of what went on from there, mainly because he still looked at me as his little girl. My appearance didn't change how much he loved me, it just caught him off guard.
After Grenada, we moved to Lexington. While living there, I remember running out the side door of our house to crawl up my dad's pant leg while he worked on the engine of his car. Him, in his green jumper suit with grease, oil and sweat all over him. I'd peek over the fender while he worked on the car and he enjoyed me watching him while he taught me what a socket wrench was.
Later, after he had cleaned up and would try to relax in his recliner, I would crawl up into his lap and play "barber." Shave and a haircut, two bits.
Father-daughter traditions
As far as Saturdays went, the whole world revolved around me and my dad watching Bugs Bunny. I think that if me and him had gone into business together, we would have owned a company called ACME. We would have designed better ways for the coyote to capture the roadrunner.
Then there are the times my dad made trips out-of-town. Every time he came home, I would run up to him jumping up and down, "What'd ya bring me, Daddy, what'd ya bring me?"
He always had something for me.
And, as if that wasn't enough, I would always steal more of his time by getting him to make little wooden swords for me so I could be Robin Hood, or a corn cob pipe so I could be Popeye. He was the master craftsman with making me simple toys like that and to me, no one on earth could match his skill of tying two sticks together, or poking a straw into a drilled hole on a cut piece of corn.
Stepping back,
staying patient
Time goes on and we moved to Decatur. Dad would take me fishing, take me to the Jackson fair, and always spend time with me. After a few years there, I thought I was too grown up to be hanging out with my dad.
He stayed so patient with my growing up. His little girl was changing. And he allowed me to go through my stages of life, allowed me to make mistakes and disciplined me in ways that let me learn from the mistake not the punishment.
Now that I am almost two decades past being an adult, I find myself turning back to being Daddy's little girl. Constantly needing him to calm my fears, guide me in the right directions, reassure me in my decisions and baby me.
Thanks, Dad, for all the memories, all the positives you see in me, all the help you've given me, all the care and provisions and, most of all, thank you for all the love you have given me.
Happy Father's Day, and happy daughter's day to me.
I love you.
Paula Merritt is the award-winning head photographer of The Meridian Star.

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