Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Dad's Yellow haired Princess by Sandy Jenkins

As a young girl I had very blond hair which labeled me as my Dad's "Yellow haired Princess" which he affectionately called me till the day he died.

He passed away on December 5, 2001. So the word "yellow" doesn't just conjure up a specific memory for me or even a handful of memories. Now that he is gone my mind is full of a million frozen moments, moments frozen in my memory, small little things that seemed insignificant at the time but are now golden to me.

Many little girls dream of having their very own pony, it's a far off dream for most girls but on my 7th birthday I woke up to a pony in my backyard with a note pinned to his halter saying every Princess needs a pony. I don't want to mislead you into thinking that I was a spoiled little brat who got everything she wanted. My Dad was of the firm belief that time spent with a child was the best gift you could ever offer them.

As a child my backyard was the place to be. My Dad was always out there with my brother and I playing some sort of game or sport. In the summer it was badminton, soccer, croquet, name it. And with the snowfalls came big snowmen adorned with crazy hats and accessories. He would spend hours building gigantic hills that would be perfect for a full afternoon of sliding fun. One year he even attempted to make an ice rink. I remember my Mom freaking out saying he was going to ruin the Dad just replied "We can replace grass, we can't replace our kids childhood". :-) And not only were my brother and I out there enjoying his attention but every child in the neighborhood would venture over at some point. The more the merrier he would always say. I don't know how many times I heard our friends say "Your Dad is sooooo cool".

The teenage years came quickly and so did my arm crossing, feet stomping have to have my own way rebellious teen attitude. My Mom wanted to smack me half the time but my Dad would just say don't worry she will grow out of it!! My Dad always said I wasn't allowed to date until I was 30 but when I turned 15 he gave in and let me go to the first real date. I was so excited but he put a damper on it by giving me an unreasonable curfew.....if I remember correctly he drove the distance from the theatre to our house and timed it...........and he gave me about a 10 minute leeway to get my butt home once the show was over LOL I remember my date arriving driving a black trans am with a garter belt hanging from the rear view mirror. The look on my Dad's face said it all and I truly think that day was the start of his transformation to gray hair and it probably knocked a few years off his life to boot!! I ended up missing my curfew by about 10 minutes and when we pulled into my driveway my Dad was sitting on the front step and all he said was “fine time to bring a young lady home”. I was mortified and my date scurried off never asking me out again!! I remember saying "that’s it, that’s all when I’m 16 I’m moving out so I can do whatever I want". Well needless to say 16 came and went and I never went anywhere. In fact,  when I finally did venture out on my own I bought a house across the street and 2 doors down from my parents. My Dad used to tease me with a twinkle in his eye and say “Geez just when I think I’ve finally gotten rid of you and now you’re my neighbor!!” I truly believe that the things that embarrass us the most about our parents, get us mad and drive us crazy are the things we love and respect most about them when we finally do grow up………or when they are gone.

When I was almost 7 months pregnant with what would be my last child my Dad passed away from a sudden heart attack. No warnings, no goodbyes…..just gone! I was devastated! About 2 months prior to losing him I had found out through an ultrasound that I was having a girl. When he found out he looked at me and said “Ashley, I’ve always liked the name Ashley”. Well Dan and I had been leaning towards a couple other names so we didn’t pay much attention to his preference…………well not until he passed and then it became apparent that no other name but Ashley would do. So Ashley it was, and she came out with the blondest of blond hair and is now her Daddy’s “Yellow haired princess”. When we brought her home from the hospital Dan, my husband,  who’s Dad had been in and out of his life growing up sat me down and said he had learned everything he needed to know about being a great Dad from watching my Dad with me. In that moment never was there a prouder daughter!

When Ashley was about 2 I noticed that once or twice a week I would wake up to her babbling in her room in the middle of the night. I would go in her room and she would be sitting on her bed talking away. I would ask her what she was doing and she would always say I’m talking to the man. I would tuck her back in and drag myself back to my room half asleep. This went on for almost a year and a half and was getting pretty tiresome. By this point she was about 3 ½ and we were sitting at the kitchen table going through old photo albums when all of a sudden she grabbed the album and feverishly flipped back to the previous page. With huge eyes she pointed to a picture and said “That’s the man I talk to in my room”… was a picture of my Dad. I can’t even explain how I felt in that moment, I was light headed, taken aback and utterly speechless. All I can tell you is not long after that her nightly conversations just stopped. I really don’t know how I feel about all that mumbo jumbo but I would like to think that my Dad did come back to visit the granddaughter he never had the chance to meet….I’ll never know but it does give me great peace to believe that maybe it is possible.

Just like anyone who has lost someone I have thought many times what I would give for just one more day with him. My song choice to go along with my offering today is a touching ballad by country singer Tim McGraw…..because even if he is gone nothing changes the fact that I will always be his little girl.


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