Friday, June 14, 2013

Father's Day Memories From A Daddy's Girl

I miss my dad.  As Father’s Day fast approaches, the spotlight is on dads.  I sit down to watch television and many of the ads are focused on the perfect gift for fathers.  At the computer, the ads on Facebook, news sites I frequent, and even Amazon are geared toward dad.  And although I’ll be assisting my kids in finding a gift for their day and celebrating the day, my thoughts and heart will turn toward my father.

 It’s no secret I was always a daddy’s girl.  Although I grew up within the circle of a large and loving family which included my parents, my brother, my beloved grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, my dad and I had a close and sometimes unique relationship.

 Although most of the adults in the family often read to me when I was small, my dad was no exception although he sometimes fell asleep over the storybook.  I had to grow up to appreciate the reason why.  At the time my dad worked at the “packing house”, or Swift and Company, a major meat processing plant in St. Joseph.  When he wasn’t working, he enjoyed both hunting and fishing, activities he introduced me to early in life.  My favorite thing to do, however, was to go on long walks around St. Joseph.  As a boy and teenager, my dad had a paper route in our home neighborhood and we walked the route.  We visited the neighborhood where his father had grown up and where my dad’s Aunt Sophia still lived, all part of what’s known as the North Side or North End of St. Joe.  We walked over to Mount Mora, a historic cemetery in my hometown and to the small house not far from the gates where my grandparents lived when my dad was a boy.

 As we walked, he shared stories from his growing up years and handed down a few tales from earlier generations.  One of my favorite memories is when we visited an empty house on North Second Street, one slated for demolition.  My grandfather, Otto Sontheimer, had lived there with his siblings and parents during his childhood and so I was able to walk into their former home.  Although it was razed in the name of progress, the front of the house next door ended up in the Patee House Museum so if you’ve ever visited, you’ve see the front portion of my grandfather and his parents’ one-time neighbor’s home!

 Sometimes we visited some of my grandfather’s one-time haunts and re-visited places my dad knew as a boy including College Lot, a playground on the site of a former college.  In the spring my dad often took the entire family along mushroom hunting in the bluffs above the Missouri River and in a wooded area near Wyeth Hill that now lies beneath the multiple lanes of the 229 Highway Loop around St. Joseph.  We explored woods and fields, sometimes picked flowers or crab apples (my Granny made jelly from these) and fished some of the many fee lakes in Northwest Missouri.   We also explored some of the woodlands in the region as well and oten headed out to a friend’s farm. On one occasion I encountered a rattlesnake in the woods and wanted to hold a conversation with the serpent.  My dad shot it at my feet without ado. 

 My dad was always a working man although before I came along, he’d done a stint in the US Army and spent time stationed in Germany.  He became a drill sergeant during that period and later, as a teen when I signed up for AFJROTC, he marched and drilled me the way he’d once done troops.  After Swift and Company closed, he changed careers and became a USDA poultry inspector which caused us to move to southwest Missouri and Neosho.  In our first years here, we explored the different forests, rivers, and creeks.

 By the time I was an adult, it became apparent to almost anyone who spent more than a few minutes in our joint company that I was my father’s daughter.  I’d be talking with my mom on the phone and I would make the same comment as my dad, who was sitting beside her in the living room.  We thought much alike and I remain a daddy’s girl.

 Although I miss him every day, Father’s Day evokes a more poignant feeling.


Twitter: leeannwriter

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Blog: Rebel Writer: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy





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