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The First Man I Ever Loved

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Submitted By tinygiant3
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The First Man I Ever Loved

Everything reminds me of him. When I see a little kid running around with a mass of curly hair I picture his hair; his black curly-q hair with streaks of gray that shimmer in the sunlight. I see the tiny spot on the top of his head that is beginning to bald, and smile when I think about how I always have to put sunblock on it because he denies his old age. When I drive by a house with a pretty little garden I remember all the hours he put into making his own garden perfect. I reflect on countless memories of him and me working and chatting as we weeded, hoed, planted, and tended to the garden. He used to call me his “Bean Queen” because when it was time to pick beans we would have a contest to see who could find the biggest bean as motivation to keep picking. By the end of the day his back and chest would be as red as a tomato from the sun. I would always push my hand into his red skin and quickly pull it away to reveal a quickly fading handprint. He would grin his goofy grin and shoo me away.
When I see a school bus drive down the road I think about the routine we had every day after school. I would come home and do homework until he came home from work. When I heard his sweet, booming voice I would run down the stairs and give him a hug like I had never hugged him before. I would tell him all about my day while he flipped through the mail. Even after long days at work he would listen to me go on and on about every little detail of my day. When I was finished I would ask him about his and he would tell me if his day it was a busy or hard or good one. Sometimes at the end of the day we would sit on the couch watching Fox News. He would have his glass of red wine resting in his lap and TV remote by his side. He would lean over and kiss me on the cheek and I would get a whiff of expensive alcohol, a smell I became comforted by. I would give him a back scratch or a foot massage and he would always make over exaggerated noises that sounded like a monkey to let me know it felt good. I would giggle at every one of them.
Giggling. Giggling reminds me of his smile. His mischievous grin, a smile with his lips glued together to form a perfect “U” and his eyes looking side to side. His monster smile, where he would gnash his teeth in order to create the most horrific grin a child could imagine. One look at that smile and you knew you were about to get tickled. One look at that smile and you were running away, screaming with delight, because you knew he would surely stalk you down and, if caught, he would show no mercy. Then there is the smile he has when he laughs at our jokes that aren’t funny. The smile he gets when he is talking excitedly or smiling for a picture. When he smiles he lights up the entire room. His rosy cheeks flush a brilliant pink and his white teeth shine proudly. It reaches from ear to ear and his eyes get squinty. I love his smile. I miss his smile.
When I am asked who my best friend is, I can’t help but long to speak his name. He was the one who put me on a bike without training wheels, the one who peeled me off the rough pavement, the one who cleaned up each knee and wiped away each tear, and the one who stuck me right back on that bike until I could do it without his help. He was the terribly obvious tooth fairy and the Santa Claus that was a little too eager to tell us each present he picked out and where each one was from. He gave me “the talk” even though I was more embarrassed than I have ever been in my life. He was the first adult to ever cuss in front of me. He listened to me gossip about school and I would listen to him gossip about work. When I was younger he made me promise I would never get too old to sit on his lap or hold his hand. I still haven’t broken that promise. I compliment him on the food he makes because it makes him so happy and he compliments me when I get dressed up to go out. He lets me cry on his shoulder every time I needed him and let me sleep in his bed when I needed too. He let me vent about trivial things and at least pretended to listen attentively. He is my protector, my superman, and the ultimate best friend.
When I am holding someone’s hand I think back to all the times I held his hand. His hands are rough with callouses from hard work. You would think his touch would be rough but it is surprisingly gentle. He held my hand like a child would hold a kitten, full of adoration and love. Warmth radiates from those big hands. I have never felt his hands get cold; in fact, I don’t think they ever do. They are always warm and welcoming. His fingernails are chewed to the nub from one of his many habits. When we hold hands he always does this thing to tell me he loves me. He would gently, but firmly, squeeze my hand three times. Each squeeze represented the words “I,” “love,” and “you.” I would respond in the same manner except for I squeezed four times to add in the “too” at the end. When I say good night to others I think of how he used to have all of us kids sit in a circle while he read us stories. On days that he was in a silly mood he would read, “Going on a Bear Hunt” or “Where the Wild Things Are” and act them out. When he read “Going on a Bear Hunt” he would have us chant, “We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. We have to go through it!” He would make sound effects as the characters trudged through mud or long grass and then pretended to be the bear once they came across it. On days that he was tired he would read us “The Kissing Hand.” When he was finished he would kiss each palm of our hands and tell us how much he loved us. I can remember one time when he let my youngest sister sit on his back while he read us a bedtime story. She was really little so it wasn’t a big deal to him. When he finally finished and stood up to leave he noticed that his shirt was sticking to his back. My little sister had peed on him while he was reading. I can’t remember his reaction but now I think it is so funny. Did you know there are many different types of kisses? We had our own secret language just for kisses. He taught me how to butterfly kiss. We would put our eyes close together and blink so that our eyelashes would gently brush together like those of a butterfly. He taught me how to Eskimo kiss. We would touch noses and move our faces in a side-to-side motion. Every time we did this I would squish up my nose like a pig, squeeze my eyes closed, and smile like I had just won a million dollars. He taught me everything. When I notice someone’s eyes I think about his. His eyes squint when he smiles and crow’s feet appear on the outside of each. His bushy black eyebrows have thinned along with the hair on his head but his eyelashes are still full and dark. His eyes are beautiful. The inside is a bright green that gradually fade into a light blue pool. As his eyesight gets worse his eyes grow duller but still full of life. When I see a picture of myself all I see is him. I see his dimpled nose that has been past down from generation to generation and, finally, to me. I remember teaching my youngest sister how to roller skate and remembering how he taught me to ride a bike. I see his freckles that coat my nose in the summer but are barely there in the winter. I see his mix of green and blue in my eyes. I see the same teeth and the same smile. I see his rosy cheeks and the crow’s eyes that have already begun to form. I see the stubby fingernails from one of the many habits I have inherited from him. When I look at younger pictures of myself I see a mop of brown curls sprouting out of my head, just like his. He was the first man I ever loved and the only man that I can say that I have loved my entire life. I am my father’s daughter.

I love you Daddy.

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