By Miki Lee Hall
This story is a tribute to all the dads out there who are so dearly loved and forever treasured in their children’s hearts. Happy Father’s Day!
Daddy died after a yearlong battle with cancer. One day not long after the funeral, Mom was sorting through some of his clothes, and I saw her pick up his khaki canvas walking hat and start to toss it into the washer. I grabbed it from her in horror. “No, you can’t wash that!” I covered my face with his beloved tattered hat and drew a deep breath. “See, it smells of Daddy.”
Now as I take it into my hands and put it to my face, I close my eyes and take a deep whiff. I can still smell a faint but not unpleasant musty odor, a mixture of Daddy’s sweat and dust mingled together with a hint of his aftershave, and a scent of what I can only describe as Daddy. The kaleidoscope of smells takes me back in time and I am a little girl again lying in the arms of my Daddy on the living room sofa. He’s turned on his side and his knees are slightly bent so he can cradle me in his arms, with my back resting against his chest. I am holding a music book of Sonatas by Franz Schubert. We both intently follow the notes of the composition of his Sonata in A minor, my little finger pointing the way.
Like the music that drifts from the speakers and surrounds the room, the warmth of Daddy’s body encompasses my own little body, and a sense of well-being invades my very being. I can feel the ever so faint breaths from his nostrils grazing the hairs on my head. Occasionally, as I turn my head to talk to him, I hear his heart against my ear, thumping strong regular beats. I smell him in that moment. The musty odor of his day’s sweat mixed with his aftershave and the scent of Daddy; all meet my nose with familiar comfort.
I turn back away from him to find my place in the music book, hurriedly looking for the notes now playing in our ears. Periodically, his hand strokes my head gently as if he were petting his favorite dog. It’s a quiet, sweet gesture, his characteristic display of affection so totally different from the rambunctious, almost rough hugs and kisses Mom showers upon me. I stretch and yawn feeling the slightly stiff ridges of the chenille like fabric of the sofa rubbing my cheek. I don’t mind… in my Daddy’s arms, I feel as if I had just downed a cup of hot chocolate after coming in from playing in the snow. In my Daddy’s arms, I feel as if I had just reached the safe tree after narrowly being caught by the one who’s It in a game of tag.
I put the hat down and slowly open my eyes. Startled, I notice a dark wet blotch on Daddy’s hat. I hadn’t even felt the tears trickling down my face.
Miki Lee Hall is a local writer and an author of a collection of Christian devotionals entitled “Ode to My Lord”. The book is available both in softcover and hardback on Amazon.com.