“I don’t want to go back to school,” I whined to Daddy. He lay on the couch, icing his swollen knee. The tests, homework, and essays were crystal clear in my memory. Midterm break’s conclusion had arrived all too soon.
Daddy ignored my whine.
“I don’t want to have to deal with my fucking roommate,” I continued my whine, adding emphasis with the ‘f’ word. Daddy stuck his nose further into his book about Mickey Mantle. “She is so stupid and annoying.” I waited for a response. No sound came from beneath his graying goatee.
“I just want to stay hooooooooome!” I said, emphasizing the ‘o’ to pique his interest.
Dad finally looked up from his book and glanced at me over his $1 reading glasses. “Will you cool it?” he asked. “Whining won’t get you anywhere, and you’re lucky you even have the opportunity to go to college.”
Another remark about my stupid roommate nearly surfaced, but the comment died before it reached the air. I knew Dad would not understand. Mom would, but Dad wouldn’t. Anyone who went to college could empathize with me. Dad couldn’t.
Daddy turned back to his Mickey Mantle book, terminating our conversation.
Just past Daddy’s perch on the couch, I peered out the windows. A gorgeous day spread out beyond them. My eyes rested on the ice bag atop his knee. His knee had given out just days before as he lifted heavy carpeting for his job. I could tell he yearned to do yard work. Instead, the zealous outdoorsman was penned up in the family room. It held him hostage on that beautiful October day.
“I still don’t want to go,” I complained.
“Oh, stop it and suck it up,” Daddy said. “You’re going to be fine.”
Daddy did the bare minimum in high school. He participated in each sports season (football/cross-country, basketball, track/baseball) and his only concern was to remain eligible for those sports grade-wise. He made sure his grades were above the requirement, but just barely.
After high school, college was not on his radar. Instead, Daddy went to a trade school and learned how to install floor covering. He has been a self-employed floor covering installer ever since. College would not have been practical for him, let alone affordable.
Daddy always encouraged everything my brothers and I involved ourselves with. His signature adorned every sports form we shoved in his face, no matter what the sport. An absent Daddy was a rare thing at games, matches, meets, musicals, concerts or plays. We shared our victories on the field, stage, course, or in the classroom with Daddy. Our successes became his.
I stopped whining and started packing.
“You go, girl,” Daddy said to me as I loaded my car. I blinked back tears and kissed him goodbye.
“I love you,” he called as I drove off.
I did it for Daddy.