|Daddy Charles, as I like to remember him|
During the mid 1960's, I felt very close to my Daddy Charles. I was a young, innocent and naive little girl. I was too young to understand the complex nature of the relationship between he and I, and my Mom and Dad (Frank). I was too young to understand why I had two fathers, yet my siblings had just one. I did not comprehend the reasons why I saw Daddy Charles only occasionally but I lived with Dad. It was quite confusing for me at such a tender age.
All I knew then was that I was so happy to see Daddy Charles. When I was with him during my school vacations and holidays, I felt that I had most of his attention, all to myself. Not only did I have his attention, but I had the attention of my paternal grandmother, "Grandma Ivy" and my uncles, "Uncle Shelby", "Uncle Jewel", and "Uncle Hollis". They doted on me, spoiled me just a little and brought me places with them.
When Daddy Charles worked at the furniture plant, I remember hearing the screeching whistle blow at the plant, indicating that it was time for lunch. I would hide behind the front door at Grandma Ivy's house waiting for him to walk in. As he entered the door, I would pounce on him from behind. He would pretend to jump out of his skin then lift me up high into the air and put me on his shoulders. I rode upon Daddy Charles' shoulders countless times as he wandered through the house or into the yard. Every now and then he would bring me a little goody home on Fridays when he got paid.
On his days off, if the weather was clear and warm enough, we would go fishing. Sometimes we went "digging for bait" before leaving for our fishing trip. He would grab a shovel and off to the woods we went. He would find the right spot where the soil was dark and rich and he began digging. Soon enough, he found enough worms to fill a small tin can. Then we headed to the river, just he and I. Sometimes we would fish from the bank of the river using our cane poles and other times we would take his boat out. He always baited my hooks for me because I couldn't stand those "squishy worms". We always caught at least a few fish to bring home. I would watch him patiently as he cleaned the fish while asking at least a hundred questions about them. He would later fry the fish along with some hush puppies and we would sit at the dinner table and pig out. I loved my fishing trips with Daddy Charles. They were a barrel of fun.
Daddy Charles played the guitar as a hobby and often he would take out his old box guitar and pick a tune on it then sing to me. These are some of my favorite memories of him. I would sit beside him and watch him as he sang "Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues" or "Bad Bad Leroy Brown". He also knew the tunes to several gospel songs. I remember a particular evening that I saw tears fall from his eyes as he sang. I felt so sad for him but he would not talk about why he was tearful. Now, I think I understand the tears.
Daddy Charles was also very creative. He knew how to carve figures from wood. He made wooden whistles and airplanes. He enjoyed working with his hands and worked with saws and furniture most of his life. I have often thought that's where I get my creativity from.
I remember once when I was talking about my Daddy Charles to my siblings. Actually, I was bragging about how he bought me stuff and took me places. Perhaps I was in an argument with my siblings for some reason and wanted a comeback, I don't know. Anyway, I bragged about Daddy Charles so much at those moments, not realizing that my Dad (Frank) was in the next room and could hear everything that I was saying. Mom told me to hush and that's when it hit me, what I had said, what my Dad may have heard. I felt so guilty. I didn't want to hurt Dad's feelings for anything because he was so good to me. I made an effort after that to chose my words carefully.
After Daddy Charles married his current wife, he and I slowly drifted apart, for reasons I choose not to discuss here. Life went on, I grew up and married, and for years Daddy Charles and I barely kept in touch. There were moments- spurts, when he attempted to re-establish our relationship, but those times of reconciliation were usually brief. I was always happy to see him, but in a sense, it was as if we were strangers. I wish the situation had been different for us and now I feel so much has been lost, so much time has been wasted over the years. It was a situation in which we both lost. At least, however, I have the wonderful memories of time well spent with him as a child.