There are many characteristics that come to mind when I think about my dad. The one that stands out the most when I reflect on my childhood is “protector.”
I’ll never forget the day he picked me up from school in 3rd grade. I was crying because Ms. Stovall had grabbed me and aggressively shook me for putting my paper in the wrong pile. She was one scary old lady with her 6 foot thin frame, bug eyes and wiry gray hair. Having watched her scold others over the school year, I think that my reaction was compounded by the anticipation and fear I’d built up awaiting my turn.
Now, I had no intention of letting my dad know what this woman had done. As much as I feared her, I feared his reaction even more. Instinctively, I had full confidence that my dad could kill a grizzly bear with his bare hands if he had to to protect us. So, when he, and not my mom, was there to pick me up from school for the first (and probably the only) time EVER, imagine my horror!
I couldn’t hide my tears and had no choice but to explain myself. I could see the anger in his eyes and I begged him not to do anything. But, as I later learned when I became a parent, there was no way he was going to allow anyone to put their hands on his child. He left me in the truck and told me to stay put.
While he was gone for what seemed like hours, I imagined the worst. I just knew that Ms. Stovall was either disfigured or dead and it was my fault. When Dad came back, he reassured me that everything was o.k. but I did not believe him.
The next day, I found Ms. Stovall’s appearance had changed. But she wasn’t bruised and beaten as I suspected. No, the wild-eyed crazy spinster of a lady was gone and in her place was the sweetest, most gentile teacher one could ever imagine. And she remained that way, at least with me, for the rest of the year.