Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day

We used to call Diddy "Old Man" as grown kids. His response was always "That's Mister Old Man, to you."

He was a great father. He was a great husband. He was a great man and a friend to everyone. He never remarried after our mother suddenly died in 1977. He said no one would ever compare to her.

He died from West Nile Virus in 2002.

Happy Father's Day, Mister Old Man.

The trunks he had on in this picture were ones my mother had bought him, and the picture was taken probably four years after her death. I believe that was the year he got a new pair.

It was long before I met Tim and even before Cindy had her two boys. We decided to (make) take Diddy to a new water park that had opened in Destin. It would be fun for him and get his mind off sitting on a beach without our Mama.

Let me stress it was my brother's idea.

I've never met anyone who doesn't like my brother. He's the funniest guy you'll ever meet, with a heart of gold. The older he gets, the more he turns into a carbon copy of our father...except for the fact our father never had a cocktail or occasional cigar. Chris isn't scared of anything and the only thing scared of Chris is one of his employees not doing their job.

We all drove to the park, paid and went in. We started out easy with the concrete water flume ride. We all got our foam mats and behind each other in line at the top. Diddy went first, easing down on to the mat in a sitting position with his legs out in front of him and carefully pushed off.  Chris, who was behind him in line immediately plopped his mat down and took off like a rocket after Diddy, catching up with him in under three seconds, smacking right into him and together tumbled to the bottom in a knot of arms and legs.

My father emerged from the wading pool at the end of the ride with his trucks split wide open in the back. He spent the rest of the day with the foam mat wrapped around his butt.

Chris decided we all needed to take another run at the flume. We all hiked back up together but this time Diddy refused to go in front of Chris so my brother said he'd be more than happy to go first.

Chris once again jumped onto his mat and took off like a rocket. Our father stood there and gave him time to round the first curve, disappear, and once again slowly eased off.

Diddy slowly floated around the first curve then saw ahead of him, my brother... holding himself back on the flume with arms and legs spread out like a spider, waiting for my father to crash into him. Once again they tumbled the rest of the way in a knot of arms and legs.

Our father never went to another water park with us, but at least we bought him a new pair of swim trunks that weren't from the sixties and looked like shorts Bobby Riggs used to wear.

That story never gets old with us. I don't think it ever will. Mister Old Man was everything any kid could ever hope for in a parent...and I got him.

I miss him each and every day, just like I do my other parent.

My only consolation is they are together again, upstairs with The Big Guy...watching over all of us.

Diddy held my hand, as a kid, showed me the way...always leading by example just as Mama did.   

With all the tragedy of losing my mother when just seventeen, somehow I made it. He loved me even when I didn't deserve it.

I'm not sure how he made it, losing the love of his (and our) life but did.  God took him quickly (ten days) when his time came, and in hindsight am grateful for it.

He had Mama for twenty five years as his wife before she died. We had him for twenty five more years as our Diddy.

They were both amazing people and loved by every single person who knew or crossed paths with them. Truly bridges over any troubled water you may encounter. 

Happy Father's Day, Franklin Bridges Leach...

You were my bridge over troubled water.

Til next time...COTTON

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