The Season

October 21, 2007
It is five o'clock, Grammy and Papa are here, dinner is on the table, Dad should be home any minute now--I hope! The time has come again, Football Season, the most crucial time of the year for Dad. If he is not teaching, he is out on the field coaching, putting in 12 or more hours a day during the week. I am currently struggling with the loss of my mom; being six and motherless is not easy. Not that Dad is taking it any better, but he does his best. Since Mom's death I don't see Dad much, he is always working. I sometimes wonder if we are going to be okay.
I enter the kitchen to the familiar Tuesday night aroma. Grammy has made her famous pepper steak. The phone rings, it is Dad, he says he will not be home for dinner and we should go ahead and eat. I begin to wonder, Dad is never home for dinner, does he even eat? Grammy, Papa, and I eat in silence, and dinner is very good. After we are done, Papa cleans the kitchen and Grammy helps me get ready for bed. She tucks me in and says good night, then returns to the kitchen.
As I lay in bed, I know I will not be able to sleep. The clock ticks, an hour has passed. My brain is rapidly churning; questions start popping in my head. Is dad okay? Is he lonely without mom? What can I do? Does he even eat dinner? I look around my room for something to console my thoughts. I grab Panda Bear who is laying at the edge of the bed. He was a present from Dad, and I've had him since I can remember. Finally I hear the garage door opening. Dad is home! As he enters the house he apologizes to Grammy and Papa for being late, but thanks them for dinner and taking care of me. He kisses them goodbye and they leave. Dad soon appears in my doorway, and I pretend to be asleep. He leans over, kisses me on the forehead, and says, 'Sweet dreams, baby, I love you,' then disappears back through the doorway.
I begin to drift off to the subtle clanking of the fork hitting the plate. Dad is finally eating dinner. At that moment I know we are going to make it. I have Dad and Dad has me.
It is finally Saturday; Dad will be home with me all day! I jump out of bed and dash into his room. He is still sleeping, but I really do not care. 3,2,1, 'Ugh!' he yells as I pounce on him. He is finally awake, mission accomplished! When Saturday morning cartoons are over, we head to the kitchen to make breakfast. Dad helps me cook the eggs and bacon. During breakfast Dad says we're going grocery shopping. Oh boy, I hate grocery shopping, but Dad needs help so I agree to tag along. After breakfast we clean the kitchen and get ready for the day. After we get back from H.E.B, Dad makes lunch and we continue on with the day. Dad says he has to do 'grown up stuff,' so I go outside to play. Before I know it, it is already dinnertime. Chicken Parmesan and spaghetti, my favorite! After dinner Dad tells me to put shoes on and head outside to the car. 'Where are we going?' I ask. 'Just go put your shoes on, you'll see,' he replies. I run to my room, find my flip-flops, and get in the car. We soon arrive at Dairy Queen. Pulling up to the drive-thru dad says, 'The usual?' 'Yes!' I reply. We pull up to the window, 'two small dipped cones,' says the cashier. He hands us our ice cream and we're on our way. When I get close to the cone, Dad and I switch. I don't eat cones so I always give them to Dad, and he gives me the rest of his ice cream. When we get home Dad says it's bath time. Before I get out of the tub to dry off, we play drip-dry, a game where he picks me up and wiggles me, getting some of the water off. We both chant, 'drip-dry, drip-dry!' At bedtime Dad reads to me, tucks me in, and we give each other goodnight kisses. He walks out of my room, cracking the door. I grab Panda Bear and we're off to sleep. 'Creak,' I am startled by the sound of my door opening. I open my eyes, squinting at the bright light. It is Dad; I pretend to be asleep again. He leans over, kisses me on the forehead, and says, 'Sweet dreams, baby, I love you.'

I am now 18 years old and attending Stephen F. Austin State University. I have been home only once to see Dad, surprising him at a football game. After the game I tell Dad I will wait up for him at home. But once the clock strikes 1:00 a.m. I am out. A while later I hear the same 'creek,' my bedroom door opens and Dad walks in, leans over, kisses me on the forehead, and says, 'Sweet dreams, baby, I love you.' But this time, instead of pretending to be asleep, I respond, 'I love you too, Dad.' And at that moment, I know that we have made it.

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