Saturday, June 18, 2011

I call him Dad

Les and Myrick Huntley
My earliest memory is one of waking up in the back of the car.  It was a round, dry space, smelling of heater and motor oil.  The seats were dark and dry and crackly and I remember waking curled up with my sister, as a square yellow shaft of light from the car port entered the window just above my head and penetrated the furry blackness.  I recall lying very still and pretending to be asleep so I would not have to walk through the cold outside.  I remember the firm safety of my dad’s shoulder and the way the smell of his pipe was always curled around his neck invitingly like a scarf.  I can still feel the cool slumbering house as we passed through and I am conscious that my mother was nearby but I have no memory of my brother; perhaps he was a babe in arms, likewise sleepy and mute.  I am guessing I was around 3 years old at this time, if that.

I was born the second child -- second daughter -- of Dawn Neil Huntley and Donna Mae (Leeper) Huntley, but I grew up the child of Les (L. E.) Huntley and Donna, Dawn and my mother having divorced while I was an infant.  So I guess most folks would say Les is my step-dad, but to me, he's "Dad."

When my (bio) parents divorced, Dad wisely realized my mother would one day remarry and our ties to the Huntley's would gradually fade away.  He wanted to keep us in the family and so he married my mother.  I think as well, he felt responsible for us as Dawn was one of his younger brothers.  Taking on the lifelong responsibility to care for us seemed to him the right thing to do.  You see, this is how Dad was raised;  from a young age, one of his baby brothers (my Uncle Myke) was placed in his care and he took that responsibility seriously. 

So he married my mom and got  my sister (who was then and is now nearly perfect) and I in the bargain.  What a deal!  I was not an easy baby or an easy toddler; nor was I an easy child, an easy adolescent nor an easy young adult.  Nonetheless he took us on to raise and he did a great job.  My parents may have had their disagreements, but rarely did they have them in front of us and where it came to child rearing, they presented a united front.  My brothers came along in their time; the first when I was 2 and the second when I was 11.  Though the boys are his own offspring and my sister and I were "steps," this difference was invisible to us.  We were one family and were all raised the same.

You do not read stories like this today;  men do not often (if every) marry for honor or responsibility. My parents have been married 51 years now and are still going strong;  you do not often read stories like that, either!  The four of us kids have pretty much put them through the mill, but they are still here for us.    Thanks, Dad, I love you.

1 comment:

Gerry Tischler said...

Beautiful tribute to your Dad.