Hi everyone!  I’m back after a long hiatus and losing all previous blogs. I lost it all somewhere in the virtual space.  I am quite sad too, because a few of them were really good.  However, I can now do a fresh start, I guess??  No other choice. Any-hoo, I have decided to participate in a little challenge this year.  I’ve gotten distracted from my genealogy work and I miss it. A lot.  So, this is my first dive back into it.

Dreamed up by Amy Johnson Crow, the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge is “a series of weekly prompts to get you to think about an ancestor and share something about them. The guesswork of “who should I write about” is taken care of. “

Amy’s prompt for this week is: “Start.”  “Some ideas include starting with yourself or whoever the “home person” is on one of your family trees. Maybe you focus on the person who got you started in genealogy or the ancestor you wanted to find first. You could talk about a relative who started a business. ”

The word “start” to me automatically triggers my memory to a phrase my father always said: “There are 2 reasons a car won’t start: fuel or fire.”  So, I will write this first one about my biological father, Ray.  He is one of my favorite people on this earth, who also happened to give ME a start in life!  We are very close, about as close as a father and daughter could be from 1000 miles apart. We talk on the phone every single day. Yes, you read that right. Every day. Sometimes we talk for 30 minutes and sometimes we talk for 3 hours. I look forward to talking to him every day, too.

I was always a daddy’s girl, for as long as I can remember. At 38, that still hasn’t changed. My parents divorced when I was 2. I lived with my mother and did the whole “every other weekend with dad” thing like millions of other kids. For my early childhood, I had him all to myself. It was just me and my dad. I always thought my dad was awesome and I was convinced he was super rich (he wasn’t) because he took me to rent movies and eat at Captain D’s every other Friday night.  We did a lot together! We went to baseball games, basketball games, played wiffle-ball in the park down the street, ate fish and fries on Friday nights when he picked me up, stayed up late watching I Love Lucy reruns, went bowling, listened to KISS in the truck, went to a KISS concert, watched Rambo 3 and Indiana Jones in the theater, and even went to meet Jerry Lawler.  One of my favorite memories of him is playing with a ball in the house. It was one of those plastic inflatable balls like you can find in the big bins at WalMart. For this game he sat on the couch and threw the ball to me, trying to throw it over my head or around me to make me miss it.  For every time I caught it, I’d get a point. Every time I missed, he’d get a point.  It evolved into him throwing it and trying to hit me as I screamed and ran and ducked.  It was fabulous and I loved every minute of it. I couldn’t have been more than 10 years old at the time.  That was what life was like with my dad until about age 12. Every time I’d see that little red Toyota pull up in front of my mom’s house, I’d get so excited.  I couldn’t wait to go with him and see what we could get into next.

Things changed. When I was about 11 or 12, my father met a woman. She was nice enough to me and I liked her.  But, she had 2 kids, one of whom was a boy. Immediately, I became insanely jealous. When I was 13, my father married that woman. When I was about 16 or 17, he adopted her children. When I was 18 (1997), that woman left him, taking everything in the house and bank account. It took him years to financially recover from that. Over the next several years, our relationship became good again, and we were once again close. When I was 21 (2000)  I got married, and had a baby less than 2 years later (2002). My dad was there for all of that, never leaving me alone, even helping us out by buying diapers and wipes, food, and paying our gas bill so we’d be warm in the cold Tennessee winter. We were young with a baby, broke, and didn’t have a thing. My dad was our lifesaver on many occasions.

In about 2005, my dad got back together with that horrid woman. I didn’t trust her any farther than I could throw her and I was not happy about it. I warned him. Everyone chalked it up to me being jealous again, but by that time it wasn’t necessarily jealousy as much as it was being protective of the father who had already been through a rough time. But that woman… She had a master plan and I was standing in the way of it. She managed to slowly drive a wedge between my dad and I, and by 2008, we weren’t even speaking anymore. One day I got an anonymous phone call that my father was very sick and I might need to go over there. Turns out my husband went over there and confirmed the story. I called my aunt who told me it was true; he was extremely sick and all alone, and couldn’t even get to the doctor.  What? Alone? Where was that horrid woman?  Turns out she had left him AGAIN, doing the same thing she did before…taking everything. He had broken his leg at work, ended up leaving his job, and suing them.  He won, and when the money came in, that woman took it all and left him again.  Words cannot describe the amount of anger I felt (and still feel) toward that woman. Those children that he adopted?  They have had nothing to do with him because of her.

We slowly rebuilt our relationship from that point until I left my hometown in 2011. It was blissful. I had gotten divorced and remarried to a man who is active duty military, so I had to relocate with him.  The night we left, I did the hardest thing I’ve ever done…I said goodbye to my dad. I stood there in my driveway, at 30 years old, clinging to him and sobbing like a baby. My dad is not the affectionate or mushy type, and I’ve only seen him cry once in my entire life, so I was not expecting him to.  He didn’t. But, he did laugh and say that I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing, and I was going to have the better life that I deserved for myself and my kids.  I was so upset.

Fast forward to 2017, now 2018 by a day, and my dad and I are closer than ever. We do talk every single day.  In 2016 my dad had a heart attack at the young age of 58. With the help of an amazing friend, I flew back home to be with him. I slept beside his bed in the hospital, worried sick that he’d die. My mom died in 2012, so losing my dad would have just devastated me. He recovered and went back home. I felt awful leaving him but I had to go home too.  I had a husband and 3 kids to take care of, and they needed me too. I felt so guilty leaving my father who gave me life, alone with nobody to help him. He didn’t really need any help, or so it would appear. He changed his life style, started riding a bike, changed his diet, lost weight, and got to be much more healthy. One year after his heart attack, his cholesterol was down, along with blood pressure, blood sugar, and anything else that was previously elevated.  He’s the pinnacle of health now, for a 60 year old man. He’s planning to move in the next few years, to wherever we settle after my husband’s retirement later this year.

Our relationship has not always been the best, but there is nobody else in this world like my father. He made a lot of mistakes as a parent because he isn’t perfect. And, he had no father himself to look up to. Now, I’m making mistakes as a parent too.  Some days I wonder if I am actually doing anything right. My dad says that means I’m doing something right.

So, here’s to you dad…the best father a girl could have asked for….I love you more than you could ever imagine and I hope we have many more years together, fighting about if I’m more like you or my mother.


Summer Rae (your namesake)

%d bloggers like this: