As I began this post, I had initially started to write an amusing story about Daddy when I was a teenager... but then I remembered a story that literally brought me to an uncontrollable sob that is still difficult for me to control as I write this.
It was on a Saturday the July before I was going to start undergrad at IIT. I had been asked by Mummy to go in and work at Arby's (we were franchisees) during the day since someone had called off. I initially didn't want to, but I eventually relented since Mummy had been working so much and I didn't want her to go in.
The morning started uneventfully and by around 1pm, we had about 15-20 customers eating in the lobby. I was in the front covering the orders in the front and drive thru, Daddy was in the back doing some paperwork, and we had an employee making sandwiches.
All of a sudden, in my periphery, I noticed someone running into the restaurant. The next thing I knew, I was staring at a man in a ski mask and a gun pointed at my face.
We were being robbed.
I initially felt like I was having a bad dream. He yelled at me to open up the register, and when I fumbled to open it, he hit me over the head with the butt of his gun. I felt no pain at all when this happened but noticed blood dripping down my face. I then collected myself, opened up the register, and started to give him the money. When I started to throw change into his bag, he screamed at me to not give him change, and he hit me again in the same spot.
This time, blood was pouring down my face.
I was in a complete daze. I then noticed Daddy watching this in absolute shock with tremendous fear in his eyes. He took a step backwards and the robber thought he was trying to hit an alarm. The robber then ran towards my dad, screaming at him, knocked him down, and began to hit Daddy repeatedly in the head with his gun. I was frozen in fear watching that son of a bitch beat Daddy.
And this is the memory where I keep losing it... this is what Daddy kept screaming over and over to that piece of shit as he was getting hit:
"DON'T HURT MY SON!!! YOU CAN HURT ME ALL YOU WANT, BUT DON'T HURT MY SON!!!"
Daddy was faced with possible death, and all he could think about was me. He was ready to give his life to protect mine.
I'm sure most parents would say they would give their lives to protect their children... but I have proof-positive that with Daddy this wasn't just lip-service. In his passing, this bag of memories I'm digging through contains many images that seem familiar.
But I now realize how fuzzy these images were in the past, and for the first time I see, with absolute clarity, how beautiful of a father he truly was.