Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Superhero Day, Papa Bear!

My dad didn't say much, he didn't need to.  He was "Papa Bear".  He growled when he was annoyed, giggled when happy, and spoke when he had something to say.  He intimidated the Hell out of every boyfriend who ever entered the house and he knew this - which in his own way - he loved. 

TV Character, Archie Bunker
He was a large, heavy set, guy who sat plastered in a recliner right down the center of the family room.  To describe my pop was like describing Archie Bunker in his "domain".  Truly, this was my father.  He had his TV tray sitting beside him, his glass of water (or "whatevah") on it, and then usually a plate of snacks my mom provided to keep his sugar at an "even keel".  At one time, my mom even provided him a little bell to ring. (This was not my dad's idea at all.)

Pop had a very dry sense of humor.  Between my mom's goofiness and my dad's penchant for off the cuff comments - I'm guessing those of you who know me well can figure out that the milkman had nothing to do with my DNA.  I'm 100% Baxter and Bryant all the way down to the little toe.

He worked hard 10-12 hours a day, sometimes 6 days a week.  Initially he worked in his father's metal foundry, then - slowly, proved himself to be an excellent business man and found himself in the front office.  His life was tough, his dad - my grandfather - was hard on him.  Grandpa Bryant never offered him any assistance.  My pop had to prove he could do it on his own. 

My memories of my father are amazing.  He was a simple man.  Though his life may have sounded mundane to someone like perhaps a rocket scientist - to me, a little girl growing up in Downey, California - he was a Superhero.

Every morning at 5:00am, as I heard him getting ready to leave for work, I would jump out of bed to make sure I'd kiss him good-bye for the day.  When he pulled into the drive-way, no matter how late or how crappy a day he'd had, he'd whistle a sexy salutation to my mother in the kitchen window.  He never, ever missed an Anniversary, Birthday, or a Mother's Day.  My mom was first in his eyes - always.  Whatever she said was law.  They never argued in front of the kids unless it was silly bickering.  He adored her.  I learned what love was by watching my parents.

My Dad, Richard Bryant
So with this said, "Papa Bear", the wonderful term of endearment your grandchildren gave you before you passed away, you are my Superhero.  You participate in all the craziness which occurs in my home on a daily basis.  You're in my family room front and center witnessing the madness which occurs at meal time.  Austynn continues to pray for your safety in Heaven, which still baffles Eric and I, but we go with it all the same.  Thank you for your presence in my weekly dreams.  It comforts me to know you're hanging around, but seriously?  I had you in that poker game last Tuesday night.  There is no way in HEAVEN you had a straight flush higher than mine!  I think you had some help on that one. 

Happy Father's Day, Pop.  I love you.  Maria.