To Ray Patrick, 1918-2006
With love from your daughter, Teri Cartwright
Through my childhood I felt sad that my brothers and I never had a close relationship with our father. He wasn't abusive to us; he could never bring himself to spank us because it brought back memories of the abuse his father inflicted on him. Sometimes I felt like he was indifferent to us. His mother was no prize, she made him feel like a wimp if he showed any kind of affection toward us. It wasn't until years later when he became very sick that my husband and I moved into their house to help mom take care of him, that we finally bonded.
One day a very funny incident happened. Every morning after Dad had his coffee, he always opened the front door and stand on the stoop. Mom and dad had a big front yard. He would stand there, looking up and down the street. It was early spring, the sun was shining and the weather was nice and warm. While standing there, he noticed something near the large trees in the front yard. Dad called, "Teri come here I want to show you something."
I came down the hall to the living room, "What?" I asked.
"Come out here." He went on, "What is that laying under that tree over there?"
I looked. "I don't know, maybe a cat?" I replied.
"I'm going to go over there to check it out." He went on as he walked, "It's a dead skunk."
"A dead skunk? Are you sure that it's dead dad?" I asked.
"Hell yeah! No skunk would be lying that still with someone walking up to it." As he's saying this and walking briskly toward the dead skunk, we both saw the skunk's tail lifted up! "Goddamn it!" he yelled. "Son of a ..." he continued on and on as he made a rapid retreat to the house.
I never saw dad run so fast, especially as sick as he was. We laughed about that skunk for days. Living with him, as an adult, has shown me a side of my dad that I never knew.