Desert Days

Dear Daddy,

I just wanted to drop you a line and let you know I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately. There’s not a day that goes by that you don’t seep into my thoughts. Sometimes it’s early in the morning when I catch a hint of someone’s coffee in the hall at school. Sometimes it comes in the middle of the day when I hear a chuckle or a cough that sounds like you. But mostly it’s the nights when you flood my dreams like the washes of the desert in a monsoon.

This week I have been thinking about us a lot. The pictures Bobby has posted from Tempe, Oak Creek Canyon and “The Big Red” have brought back a wealth of memories.

Remember when we lived in the big read with grandma and grandpa and you and grandpa were killing the chickens for Sunday dinner? I wasn’t afraid even when you grabbed that big rooster and spun him by his neck. I was glad. He was mean and chased me. I remember sitting on the porch holding my favorite red hen (the one you promised wouldn’t be a Sunday supper). I had on my red jumper, and that crazy hen pooped all down the front of it. I was so mad. After that I didn’t care if she was supper or not. But you saved her anyway.

We had some really great suppers there with family. Grandma always made some of the best fried chicken and gravy. I was so jealous that Shelly and Steve got the drumsticks. But it didn’t matter the rest of the chicken was just as good.

The picture of our old house was a real shocker. It has changed a lot since I have been there. I like the stucco instead of the brick. And the smaller bushes in the front really open it up and make it look bright. I can remember sitting on the roof of our house on the Fourth of July and watching the fireworks being shot off at Sun Devil Stadium.

I remember too the dust storms that came across the hot desert and shut everything down. We spent the evening in street with the rest of the neighbors (the electric was out and it was stifling hot in the houses). The storms were scary, but fun.  We kids liked having the adults in “our area” especially after the sun went down and we got to play “kick the can.”  

My favorite of Bobby’s pictures though is of Oak Creek Canyon. I loved it when you would stop for a little while and let us kids play in the cold, cold water. It was my favorite part of our weekend fishing trips. Is that where “slide rock” is? I can’t remember now.

Things are so much easier when you are young. So uncomplicated and free, I hope I didn’t complicate things for you.

We had a lot of good memories in Arizona. Growing up there was unlike anything my kids will ever be able to imagine. I would like to take them there some day. I wish I would have….before.

A lot of years have come and gone since our days on the desert, things that changed us like our house and its stucco. On the outside everything looks different; but underneath it’s the same old house filled with memories and stories of childhood nights and desert days.

Sometimes I think about the things I should have said or done. Thoughts and feelings I wish I had shared, but I didn’t. Did you ever feel that way?  Were there thoughts you wanted to share? Things you wanted to say?  

Times change, people, and places change too.  I will always love you. I always did. I just didn’t always know what to say, where to begin. 

It’s almost been a year now since you found out about the cancer, a year next month since you’ve been gone. I think about you every day. Sometimes I miss the desert, like I miss you.

The house I grew up in Arizona.

 The “Big Red” also known as The Peterson House in Tempe, Az. My grandparents were the caretakers in the 60’s early 70’s.


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Christy on March 29, 2011 at 2:34 am

    The thread of comparison between the desert and your dad is so powerful and beautiful. Your last line is amazing. This makes me think of a Robert Frost quote about writing: “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” There are definitely tears here.


  2. Posted by the other ruth on March 29, 2011 at 2:51 am

    Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.


  3. It is great you have shared your truly emotions in this beautiful and meaningful way. I hope this sharing makes you feel better.


  4. Posted by Ruth Ellen Hodges on March 29, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    He loved you also..


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