Posted in Children, Fathers, fathers and daughters, Friendship, Growing up, Memories, Outdoors

Bangberry Ride by Ginger Keller Gannaway

Bangberry* Ride (*Banbury Cross)

Bangberry ride1
Dad/ Papa with Grandson Ryan on the Bangberry Tree

There was an oak tree with a long, low limb. A 6’4” dad would put a girl on his shoulders and let her scramble into the crook of the tree’s limb where she could hold on to small branches and settle into the oak’s saddle. The tall dad would then grab the limb’s end and pull it down, down to the ground. Anticipation made the girl’s grip tighten. The dad would go down and up, down and up to the tune of an old nursery rhyme:

“Here we go down to Banbury Cross

To see a fine lady ride on a white horse.

With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes

She will have music where ever she goes.”

Then the dad added an “Ole!” as he released the limb to make the girl spring up high as the tree was free to boing, boing, boing back into place.

Evan in tree
Evan in Bangberry Tree, 2005

Head and hair surrounded by branches and leaves, the girl felt equal to the free-flying birds.That 4-second thrill was a perfect balance of joy and fear.  She looked down on her siblings from her queenly perch  as they did the “Me next!” dance and she gave the mere mortals a slight smile before she accepted the dad’s huge hand that helped her dismount her tree throne.

Besides the wooden roller coaster at the beach, the “Bangberry Ride” was the girl’s favorite ride. With a rhyming song, a heavenly seat, a touch of danger, a parent’s attention, her sisters’ envy, and her stomach’s tickle, the ride was a moment of childhood perfection.

trees in Eunice
Oak trees around my childhood home
Posted in Fathers, fathers and daughters, Introspection, Parents

My Daddy’s Eyes

 

Beauty is a light in the heart.
“Good morning!” the desk clerk said cheerily.

 It was 6:00 a.m. as I padded into the Hampton Inn lobby sitting area.  Everything was softly lit and I was the only patron wandering the hallway….just the ambiance I needed to sit quietly and wake up.  I had my books and writing pad as I headed straight to the coffee: two pumps of hazelnut creamer, half robust, and half decaf.  I sat down and got situated with my coffee and book when I felt a presence or some kind of energy nearby. Suddenly chilled,  I took a long breath in, savoring the blend of hazelnut and coffee aroma.  Finally, taking a sip, my eyes glanced over the top of my coffee cup and I saw him.  Across the room, directly opposite me, was an older gentleman.  He seemed relaxed as he sat with perfect posture,  looking straight at me.

 He had my Daddy’s eyes.

It felt so strange and yet comforting.  He was dressed in worn khaki pants, a plaid shirt, and a tattered baseball cap.  He smiled at me and I smiled back, but his eyes went right through me.

For a split second, I wanted to cry “Daddy!” and go to him for a hug and a whiff of his Old Spice aftershave.  I wanted to take up where we left off and say, “How are you?”  “Where have you been?”  But, I knew the answers.  So I diverted my eyes back to my book.

I didn’t want to stare.  I just wanted one more peek into my Daddy’s eyes, and when I finally dared to look up….he was gone.  There was a voice inside me that begged to follow him,  yet I sat completely still, totally rattled and at the same time….humbled.

As if on cue, the lobby breakfast area began to come alive with sleepy guests wanting a waffle and hot coffee.  I glanced around, wondering if anyone saw what had just happened…did they too, see the gentleman in the baseball cap and plaid shirt?

I’m not at all sure what to think or how to feel about my encounter this morning.  I feel a strange peace and warmth as I remember it.  Was my Daddy wanting to see me too, just one more time?  

I don’t believe I need to figure it out.  I will just accept it as an embrace from above and carry with me the familiar smile and crinkled eyes as my secret reminder.  Maybe it really is true that the eyes are the window to the soul.