It’s 4 a.m. I’ve been up since 2.
The freight train is speeding along the tracks about two miles away. I turn towards the window to listen to the sound of the whistle, taking in the sweet fragrance of the night air and the vanilla glow of the full moon.
The train whistle sings to me in that familiar A Major dominant 7th musical chord, which triggers that memory again: Me, sitting at home, singing a chord-accompanying melody while waiting for my father to get off work and come home from the steel mill after his 3p – 11 pm shift.
All of a sudden a new sensation envelops me, another feeling I used to get as a child, back when my father walked through the house at 3 a.m. It was the combination of serenity and security.
Dad got up every night to make sure that everyone, everything, was okay. I always pretended to be sound asleep but I’m quite sure he knew I was watching him through my half-closed eyes as he paused at my open door before passing my room. And I did watch him, almost every night as I listened to his tired steps in the silence of the dark.
On his “lee” I never felt alone, afraid or unprotected. Because of those slow, heavy footsteps, his menacing figure and his commanding presence, I always felt comfort. I always felt safe. Because of his existence, I had the unwritten assurance that no harm would befall us. Not, nor EVER on his watch.
He would die protecting his family.
To this day, I never took the value of having my father around for granted. I always appreciated having him in my life (even on those nights that I slept on my stomach because my butt was still glowing, throbbing and humming as a consequence of the previous day’s mischief).
Crazy as it sounds, I thank him for every ONE of those “whoopins” because they kept me out of jail and the cemetery. Well, I thank him NOW. Back THEN…? HELLLLL no…
Years later, I created my own “Davis Crew” and a home in a different city. And every other night, I heard that familiar late-night call from the passing train. It always gave me that old feeling and it reminded me: “Protect your family”. So I kept with his practice and walked through the house in the early mornings.
Some nights, I took the time to appreciate what God had blessed me with; a home and a family.
Some nights, I just watched and listened to them breathe, wondering what my father used to think.
I laugh because as towering as he was back in those days, I am now taller and larger in frame. Like him, I woke around 3 a.m. without an alarm to begin my sentry duty, stopping at each room entrance for a few moments before continuing my rounds down the steps to the main floor, then the basement. I tried to walk softly. I really did. Years later, my children told me they could hear me on many a night and watched me whenever they could.
I love them.
I live for them.
I would kill for them.
I would readily die for them.
I know the importance of being in my children’s lives, even today, now that they’re young men.
And even though they act self-reliant – as if they don’t need me, they constantly do things to remind me, as well as themselves, that they do… …just as I did things to remind myself that I needed MY father, even after I’d gone to college and in the subsequent years. And especially when I had my sons. That was when my “dad” became my “friend”. Correction, my BEST friend. From that point, our telephone conversations took on an entirely different meaning and feel. We talked as old chums and most of the time I was asking for advice as a young father. Those times were incredible. Those times were unforgettable. I learned a side of the man that I had never known.
And I never missed the opportunity to call him on Father’s Day and say, “Happy Yo’ Day, Dad…”
But now that he’s gone, well… you get it. Some years, on that day, I just mutter it softly to him, to myself.
Today, the sons (the ones who actually still live at home) have to be told to keep it down because they’re up late at night; entertaining friends in the basement, microwaving and gaming online, knowing they have to be up in a few hours for work. They don’t need my protection as much, if at all. Collectively AND individually, they could stomp a mudhole in most any (unarmed) intruder – and that’s putting it mildly. But that’s what happens when you raise vicious lions with the hearts of lambs.
But it doesn’t stop me from getting up and walking around to make sure all is well. If nothing else, to ensure that they haven’t set the stage for a house fire. Lord knows I wake up to the smell of burning Pizza Rolls more often than I care to.
And when I return to bed, I’m sure my thoughts parallel his.
And in the end, I know they’re going to be alright…
…long after I’m gone.
On this day, I share these thoughts without any mention of memories of my father’s miraculous deeds. No tales of wonder. No stories of Black Superman. You’ve heard and will continue to hear about them in my past and future posts.
Today, my message is simple…
I MISS my father. “Big Ken” Davis.
I HONOR my father. He was and will always be, my hero.
I LOVE my father. He loved his family as I love mine.
I AM my father… …and I’m just fine with that.
Happy Yo’ Day, Dad. I miss you. I love you. I AM you.
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