eleven years ago today, my daddy died. every year i vow – and i try, i really try – to celebrate his birth date more than his date of death, but every year when 12/2 rolls around, i grow quiet and tuck myself into a day of extreme self-care, remembrance, reflection, tears, and love.

oh how i long to rest my head on his shoulder, to feel his arm squeeze around me and his lips peck my forehead. how i do long to put my hand in his pudgy, dry hand and feel his fingers close solidly around mine. how i do long to hear him tell me “everything’s gonna’ be all right, doll.”

doll. he called me doll.

i can’t tell you how badly i want to ask him things like what he’d most like me to know about this stage of my life and what is he most proud of and what did he write on the chalkboard in that dream i had about him so many years ago. i want to hear him tell me about how he and his brother gene built that house for my great-grandmother and about the time he got snookered by those thunder road-esque boys and hid from the police car by going up on the racks at the service station. i want to hear him tell me about the time i was driving nails into his daddy’s floor and how when he heard the racket and tried to get me to stop, granddaddy said calmly (and firmly) “junior,” (daddy hated being called that) “jeanne’s in my room now, so you just go on back to your part of the house and leave us be.” i’d give anything – anything, i tell you – to hear him tell me just one more time about the day i was born. about how it was snowing, about how he called his daddy at dark: thirty to say “we’ve got us a little valentine.”

do you have hand-me-down stories in your family? have you recorded them (and made backup copies)? if yes, fantastic. if not, what are you waiting for? go on now, scoot. you can thank me later.