Thursday, August 24, 2006

Daddy's Little Girl

Reading all the stories about dads got me thinking about my own. He was a doctor, back in the day when doctors made house calls and treated the whole family. He was my hero. And, he was just crazy about me, his only child. To say that I was spoiled rotten was, no doubt, an understatement.

All the kids in our neighborhood called him "Uncle Doc", and he looked after all of them. We all took typhoid shots annually, back then, and he just lined us all up in the kitchen and saw to it that we all got our shots. I should say, he lined THEM all up. I was a little different matter. We had to go through the annual ritual whereby he would chase me through the house , and mother would try to head me off and, finally, I got nailed. This wasn't a fun game. I hated those shots. Daddy learned to wait until he finished with all the other kids, because I threw such a fit. I started dreading that shot way before he brought the serum home and put it in the refrigerator. He said I was his worst advertisement.

Daddy wasn't a golfer or fisherman. We never went camping and I was almost an adult before I ever saw farm animals in fields, rather than at he State Fair. But, he took me with him to many places other kids didn't get to go. I went on house calls with him, and sat in the car while he went inside. He took me on his hospital rounds, especially on Sunday, and left me with the nuns who ran the hospital while he saw patients. And, I repaid him by asking mother (who had received her nurse's training at that hospital), in front of the nuns, when she and daddy were going to get their divorce. Such a sweet child. Such a joy. It took mother and the nuns a while to discover that there were several friends of mine at school whose parents were getting divorces, and I thought it was something you purchased.

Daddy had a skeleton in his closet, quite literally. In his office there was a full skeleton, except for the head, and we took him home on Hallowe'en, and put him on the front porch, with a pumpkin for his head. We were very popular in the neighborhood.

One of Daddy's best friends was a dentist, and I despised him. He was a gruff old codger, and had a loud voice, and every time he came to the house, he demanded to see my teeth. Whenever I got a loose tooth, Daddy took me to see him. The man simply scared me to death. One time, I had a tooth that was just hanging from a string, and I could doddle it on the end of my tongue and draw it back in without actually spitting it out. Dr. C. put his hands behind his back, after he lured me into the chair, and, promising not to touch me, said, "Let me see that loose tooth." Feeling relatively safe, I opened my mouth, and before I knew it, he snatched that tooth right out of my mouth, and threw it over his shoulder.

I was enraged. How dare he! How rude! I howled about needing that tooth for the tooth fairy until he got down on his hands and knees and groped around and found that tooth. At least, I suppose it was my tooth. No telling how many he extracted that way. When I look back, I see how kind he really was. But, I was just plain scared, and finally, Daddy let me go to another dentist. I'm afraid I hurt Dr. C's feelings. But, I hope he understood.

Daddy's office was in the Donaghey Building at 7th and Main St. in Little Rock, that housed the offices of most of the doctors in those days. That bunch of doctors just loved their practical jokes. One thing they all loved to do was to throw lit firecrackers down the mail chute because they made such a beautiful BANG.

Daddy died the day after my 17th birthday, and I miss him still. When I was little, he read to me at bedtime, and told me bedtime stories. He checked my closet for monsters when I woke up in the night. When I got interested in boys, he suffered with me when a boy I liked didn't like me back. He only spanked me once, and that was when I had an extremely high fever, and wouldn't take my medicine. He spanked out of fear, not anger. He took me to two movies that I can remember, because I wanted to go. Once, in Denver, and once back home. We saw, 'The Greatest Show On Earth", with Jimmy Stewart and Charlton Heston, and "Broken Arrow" with Jeff Chandler as Cochise. He sat through the "Fall of the House of Usher" by E.A. Poe, when it was on TV, because he thought it might scare me, and it did.

What a dad.

10 comments:

saz said...

Another parent lost too young. What a wonderful father. I wish your kids had the chance to know him.

I luv that you were his worst advertisement for shots. Burst out laughing when I read that.

F&W said...

How awful to lose him so young (your age and, obviously, his!). I loved your story, though.

Peggy said...

Sugar, I am so sorry that your Daddy died when you were both still so young. Was it an accident? I am also a Daddy's girl. Thank God I've still got him around.

Alan G said...

Enjoyed your walk down memory lane Betty. It is always sad to hear about the premature death of a beloved parent. I lost my real father around the age of four but not due to death, he just left my mother and me. No memories are much less painful sometimes. On the other hand if I had a choice...

By the way...my doctor when I was growing up in Little Rock was Dr. Richie. Can't remember where his office was. I am sure it wasn't in the Donaghey Building however.

Betty said...

Saz: I wish my kids had known him, too. He would have been crazy about them.

Peggy: He had a massive coronary, age 49.

Alan: I don't think I knew Dr. Richie. I didn't mean to suggest that all the doctors had their offices in the Donaghey Building, just a bunch of them.

Dogwalkmusings said...

You know, I think anyone who has such beautiful recollections is a very beautiful person herself.

Betty said...

dogwalkmusings: Thank you. Just wait 'til you catch me on a bad day.lol

saz said...

Dogwalkmusings said it for me.....

Newt said...

Awwww, sniff, sniff, wipe tear. That was a wonderful story. And judging from how much love was in your story your dad achieved something very special, in your heart, he will live forever.
Sniff, sniff, wipe more tears...

Maya's Granny said...

Betty, How wonderful that you have written about your dad. He sounds like a very loving father; I'm sorry that you lost him, glad for you that you had him.

I must tell you I once had a dentist do the sneak up with his hands behind his back thing on me -- I had told him I was afraid of needles and he had said he wouldn't use one. And that's another blog!