When I posted about my mother, I got many comments and e-mails about what a class act she is. I certainly am biased, but I couldn't agree more.
One of the things that I respect so much about my mother is that during the eight years my father was away from us as children, she thought it was of paramount importance that she "kept him alive" in our minds. We only saw our father a couple times a year, and we only spoke to him on the phone every Sunday night. My mother thought that wasn't enough time for us to really know him. She was adamant that his family was not going to forget about him just because he was in prison.
I remember that my mother always sent him copies of our report cards and had us write notes about our favorite subjects and what we were learning that grading period. He was always so proud that his girls were straight A students.
At Christmastime, when my mother got our pictures taken with Santa, she had us write something to Daddy on the pictures. In wobbly, five year-old penmanship, I wrote on one of them, "Daddy we love you from your two little girls".
Mama always wanted us to know what Daddy was like as a person. She told us stories about him over and over again. Every time she told us the same story, it felt like it was the first time I ever heard it. My favorite story was that Daddy bought most of his impoverished senior class their class rings. I loved his benevolence. Even the FBI has commented on my father's generosity.
Whenever a movie came on television that my father liked, my mother got us all excited for one of Daddy's movies. I can't tell you how many times I watched "King Kong." Daddy loved it, so I sat through it with a smile on my face. My father loved the brute strength of the giant gorilla, so I loved it too.
Daddy's favorite song was Jim Croce's "Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown." My father loved it that Leroy was so tough, but it the end, he wasn't as tough as he thought he was. Every time that song came on the radio, my mother announced that it was "Daddy's song", and I hung on every word of it. It is still my favorite song, and whenever I hear it, I can't wipe the smile off my face.
My mother is stricken with Alzheimer's Disease now, and barely remembers my father. My family and I tell her stories about him all the time to try to keep him alive in her memory. Daddy is so important in our lives that all of us refuse to let him die in each other's mind.