Some Fathers die of heart attacks, other fathers just have dead hearts.
|Daddy's Heart Stopped
By Patricia Meyer
It was a 13 inning ball game, curled up on the sofa, you and I and the baby. Our Victoria was still of course tucked safely away in my tummy, but a 15 hour labor was only hours away. You liked to balance the remote on my stomach and watch her kick it off. I had given up on the game, as well as the false contractions, and gone on to bed. It wasn’t long after turning the lights off in our plush waterfront apartment that you turned on the radio on the night stand and slid in bed behind me. We both rolled over so you could feel the baby kicking and moving against your back, and that was the last night we would all three sleep so naturally and comfortably close and in love.
She would be your second child, my first, and how you promised to be all you were to her that you were not for Leslie. That sweet blonde angel who last saw her Daddy at her doorstep when she was three. You had tried, and you cursed yourself for being stupid and afraid to be a man and father. You swore Victoria, your Peanut Butter Brittle Baby, would have it all. And I believed your promise.
You were there when she was born and the first to hold her. You brought her to me and I smiled and you said “Look what we did.” And she never left her Daddy’s shoulder for years. Always perched there during a ball game, or scurrying out to the beach, or dancing in the living room.
And when you were gone, I remember a little china face peeking from the large second story window toward the long highway, waiting for “Daddy to come home.” Oh sometimes she would get mad at her Daddy, like when he’d make her balloon “Pop Off.” Or when he’d eat more than his share of Halloween candy, but oh how she loved and clung to you.
After our demise and before your new adventures, you took Victoria to Galveston, when I could not, and were there for her Grandpa Baba’s last breath. That crucial day my father's heart stopped beating. I missed saying Goodbye because you and I had ironically switched places. But whether you realized it or not, being there sowed you two even closer together. Or at least her to you.
Her Baba was the man that gave her what you could'nt when you were not there, and he would have continued to be that man she could always depend on. The man who loved her more than his own life. The man who knew that a coloring contest or baking cookies was always worth more than a movie. The man that never made empty promises or let anything come between a phone call to his little “Piddily Dip” and a drive just the two of them; even if it was only to the store.
A year or so later you moved out of state and started a new family, letters fell from few to none, child support checks the same, and visits, well for Victoria, they only brought on the pain of remembering when. And although she knew the record played the same old sorry song, she still missed the melody of memories she so carefully carried within.
At Christmas the two of you had always read “The Grinch,” and at Easter she had always shared her basket. And when Pooh hum diddelyd in the hundred acre wood, Daddy always played Tigger and she always played Piglet. And when Daddy wasn't there, her Grandpa Baba always baked some cookies for Tigger's return.
Babba died on the three of us, he left you with big shoes to fill, he left me with the memory of how wonderful a father’s love can be, and he left Victoria asking me seven years later, “Why didn't I get a Daddy like yours, and why did my Dad's heart have to stop beating too?”
If you liked this story please read my daughter's poem inspired by her father: "Invalid Item"