A Shirt Full of Holes, A Heart Full of Love

debdad1The light outside grew dark. Even at the young age of three, I knew what that meant…Daddy would be coming home soon. After dinner, I’d scurry to the old brown couch at the far end of the living room, the two dingy lamps casting soft yellow pools of light on either side. My dad would settle down onto the couch, often with his pouch of tobacco and his pipe. As the smoke rose, giving off a distinct sweet smell that still today reminds me of him, I’d hop onto his lap…my time with him, without the distraction of my two brothers. It was our ritual in the evenings; I eagerly looked forward to him reading to me, taking me to a far away place of adventure.

As Daddy read to me, I’d mindlessly poke my finger into the tiny holes in his white t-shirt that he wore under his uniform shirt each day. Looking back, such a contrast these evenings must have been for him. By day, he was a correctional officer at some of New York’s maximum security prisons dealing with some of the most challenging parts of our society; and in the evenings, he came home to be Daddy, his only daughter curled up in his lap, anxious for his attention.

The story would unfold and the tiny holes in his t-shirt would grow until my finger was all the way through, tickling him. My dad would shake his head, smiling and bemoan the fact that I’d ruined yet another shirt, but I think he secretly loved it because it meant we were spending time together. He’d get back to the story and I’d watch my Daddy’s blue eyes twinkle and his long 70s-style handbar moustache move as he added expression and enthusiasm into that evening’s story. Sitting with him, listening to stories, shaped my interests, and cultivated my love of reading.

As I grew older, time and life, and stubborness on both sides crept into our cozy world. Things changed between my dad and me. Somewhere along the way, the stories stopped. Thinking back now, I can scarcely recall the titles of those books that I so anxiously waited for so many years ago. It’s been 16 years since he’s been gone, but those moments I shared with him are the ones I look back on and cherish.

Debbie enjoys spending time with her husband of 14 years, Matt and their two very active children: Calvin, a gifted and quirky 11-year-old boy, and Kadison, a creative and strong-willed 8-year-old girl. Debbie attended the University of South Florida for both her bachelor's and master's degrees in education. With 20 years of experience, she's a National Board Certified Teacher in literacy and currently teaches 1st graders. Debbie's mission is to get kids to love learning! In her spare time, Debbie loves to read, enjoy the beach, and find the perfect cup of coffee. She is always on the look-out for a great local restaurant or fun place to go to relax! Follow Debbie on Twitter and Pinterest.

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