September 2, 1934

Hummingbirds are territorial. Instead of drinking peacefully together, they chase each other away from the feeder.

Today is my dad’s 86th birthday. He died when he was 54.

“My lovely daughter,” his final words to me. My heart smiles and cries with the thought of it.

On the floor spinning around, moving effortlessly together, I knew it was our last dance — he was such a good dancer.

I also remember the time he said, “Don’t do it” — the young girl telling her daddy that women in her new northeastern home don’t wear makeup, and now neither did she, but back in the South, she felt compelled to decorate her face. A validation a daughter can always treasure.

The legacy of music — my favorite of Daddy’s gifts. I feel it living in me and behold it in the lives of my sons. Only in my imagination can I see Daddy bursting with pride and admiration as they perform.

A passion for sports, a good steak, and fine dining — loves of my father and the man I married. They are different men in many ways, but do we unconsciously seek out the familiar in a mate? Years separate them though they were born a day apart.

There are stories of my dad that are not memories. The young Cajun boy was punished in school for speaking his native French and the same little trickster would pick out the corn ears that were easiest to shuck and leave the difficult ones for his mother. He didn’t teach me to speak French because the value of it was conditioned out of him.

Daddy had his problems, too, but I won’t go into them here because

first, we all have our problems;

second, my love for him covers a multitude of his sins, and

most importantly, third, his problems don’t define him.

Today I honor him by letting myself feel a small portion of the great well of grief that I have stored in my heart for the loss of him.

Instead of chasing the memories away, I am allowing myself to rest on the feeder and drink deeply of them, to be nourished by them.

This territory is my own.

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