By Tammy Davis
I Love It When – Part Two (Part One here)
In one of my recent stories, I mentioned that “I Loved It When” my daddy gave us boxes of chocolates for Valentine’s Day. After that story ran, my mother told me that she was happy I remembered that tradition. How could I not? It was part of who daddy was. He loved buying gifts for us. I had forgotten that Mama’s box was always the biggest, as it should be.
Mama recently gave me a part two to that story. My daddy died in May 2016. He had limited mobility towards the end. On his last Valentine’s Day in 2016, mama was going to the grocery store. As she was walking out, he told her to remember the candy and to make sure her box was the biggest. She followed daddy’s instructions and got two boxes of candy – one for her and one for daddy. She made sure her box was bigger.
Even at the end of his life, daddy held on to those traditions. With three daughters and a wife of 63 years, that man had bought a lot of candy.
My daddy was a remarkable man – complex, but remarkable. I often tell people that there’s tough and there’s Gene Davis tough, because he was in a league of his own.
The Christmas before he died, all he wanted was a left-handed fishing reel. He had lost the use of his right hand but was convinced he could make a left-handed one do the job. When I walked in the living room that Christmas Eve and saw what had to be a fishing pole wrapped and leaning in the corner, it was hard. We all knew Daddy’s fishing days were behind him, but he still believed. We helped him open the rod and reel, and you could see the wheels turning in his brain. He was going to catch himself a fish.
Daddy kept an air boat down at Okeechobee, Florida. He would follow the cycles of the moon to plan his trips. He and his fishing buddies would pile into his Suburban and off they would go to have big fishing adventures. They came home with coolers overflowing with fish and a good story or two, but for the most part, what happened in Okeechobee stayed in Okeechobee.
The March before daddy died he told his friend and helper, Glen, to make a reservation at the fish camp in Florida. Just like the Valentine’s Day candy, daddy was being true to himself and what he loved. He wanted one more chance to be on the water.
That trip didn’t happen, but my daddy had had a lifetime of fishing adventures. He had done more than his share of living.
I’m glad I got to hear about daddy’s last Valentines Day. It was a good reminder of the man he was.
On this Valentine’s Day, in honor of my daddy, I will go to the store and buy two boxes of candy. I’ll buy a big one for myself and a smaller one for my daughter. I will tell my child some happy stories about her grandfather and his big, complicated, heart.
I will continue my I Love It When tradition, but I will add some extra chains about my father this year.
I Love It When: I think about Daddy’s love of the water even though he couldn’t swim.
I Love It When: I remember how strong and fearless that man was.
I Love It When: I try to be like the best parts of him.
I Love It When: I hold happy memories of my father in my heart.