|November 7, 1979|
As I mentioned in an earlier blog, my mother and I didn’t always have the best relationship, mostly during my teenage years. I was mouthy and rebellious and we often clashed. No one would believe it now since I am thick as thieves with my momma and talk to her several times every day. With the exception of a few instances, however, I’ve pretty much always gotten along well with my daddy. I didn’t have one of those relationships where he was perfect in my eyes and could do no wrong. I was “daddy’s girl” in a lot of ways, but I was never blind. I knew that even though he was a great man, he had his flaws, as everyone does. But long before my momma and I reached a point where we could be friends as well as mother and daughter, I was friends with my daddy. There were few things I felt I couldn’t go to him about, and even those things I did hide from him, I did it out of a desire to not disappoint him.
|Summer of 1981|
|Summer of 1982|
Since my dad was older when I was born—he actually has a grandson older than I am—he was always a bit indulgent with me, much more so than with my older siblings from what I gather. There were times he was possibly too permissive. He agreed to let me start dating a couple of months before I was fifteen. I’ll never forget my momma’s reaction (or mine!) when he told the guy to have me home at midnight (it was quickly backed up to 9:00).
|Audience participation during one of my plays in college|
Everything I inherited or took away from my dad wasn’t as positive. Though my overall temperament is much closer to my mom’s, I got my actual temper from my father. I don’t lose my temper easily, but when I do, I have virtually no control over my mouth and sometimes over my actions. Luckily, I married someone with almost no temper, so I’ve mellowed out over the past decade (it’s just not much fun to fight with someone who doesn’t fight back). Growing up, I don’t remember my dad losing his temper too many times (at least not in my presence), but when he did, he got extremely angry and he did so very quickly.
Because of my father’s tendency to let me get away with pretty much anything, he didn’t always make us respect my mom as he should have. He never insisted that we do our share of the chores. He would sometimes say, “Help your mom clean the table,” but there were no repercussions if we didn’t. There was no “wait until your dad gets home” in our house. Mom always had to be the bad guy because she knew if she waited until daddy got home, there would be no punishment except maybe a “good talking to.” The worst, though, was the way dad allowed us to talk to our mom. I can only remember a few times when he got involved when I would smart off or be blatantly disrespectful. And there were even times when I would argue with my mom and he would take my side. Now that I’m a wife and mother, I would be so hurt if John stood by and allowed Amelia to disrespect me. To me, it’s basically saying, “I don’t respect your mother enough to make your respect her.” I’m not much for wishing to revisit the past, but I truly wish I could go back and change that one are of my life. I would have given my mother the respect she deserved, even though it wasn't demanded of me as it should have been.
In the past few years, I’ve watched my father change in so many ways. He walks with a stoop and slight shuffle now, due in part to years of walking on knees that needed to be replaced but also due to the Parkinson’s which he was diagnosed with last year. The man I grew up watching kneel at the altar every Sunday family as he prayed for his family now struggles to stand up from the dinner table. His days of diving from the side of the pool or helping me with my pitching are long over. But physical changes are expected as one ages, and he still gets around better than many people even a decade younger than he. No, as sad as his loss of full mobility has been, it’s the other changes that have broken my heart a little each time I’ve seen him. The man who has always had an answer for everything is now left asking so many questions. I don’t really want to provide any more details than I must since I feel it is almost disrespectful to him. It’s not that he’s been reduced to some shell or child, but he’s just so different. Every week seems to bring more changes, and each time I say goodbye I want to hug him a little longer. I know he realizes that he’s different, and I know it must be hard for him. Each time he can’t remember a name or looks to my mother for direction in a simple task, I can’t imagine how much it frustrates him. Being so much like him, though, I have to believe it scares him and even makes more than a little angry.
|Amelia and her Grampa|
William Arthur Jewell—Bill—has been many things in his life. He has served his country, his community, his God. He has been a son, a brother, a husband and now a grandfather. But for me, he has had only one role that mattered—he is my Daddy.