I stood at our apartment window, watching the birds fly between our fire escape and the trees behind our building.
“Stop dawdling. Put your coat on.” Yelled my mother. “Your dad has to get to work.”
I liked school but hated waiting at that bus stop on the hill. I was the youngest one there, the older boys menaced me, and it felt like the coldest place on earth when the wind was fierce like today.
“Come on.” My dad said as he helped me button up. “I’ll wait with you ‘til the bus comes. You won’t have to worry about those boys.” I nodded my head ok, glad to know he understood my fears.
He picked up my book bag as I grabbed my lunch box and out the door we went. Down the stairs, through the lobby into the gale. I kept my head down as we trudged hand in hand along the side road of the Parkway. The whizzing cars splashed water from the night’s rain our way, and he took the brunt of it so I would stay dry. After a few minutes we turned to hike the hill. We were both breathing hard when we got there.
I watched as the boys ran around, whooping and hollering and “accidentally” bumping into one girl after another who stood by the bus stop sign. My dad must have noticed my look of dismay. “There’s no reason to be afraid. They play a little different from girls that’s all. Plus it keeps them warm to run. You want to try it?”
I shook my head, no. I was too cold to think of moving away from my father’s comforting presence.
“Well then. How ‘bout you stand closer, inside my coat? It will help block the wind ‘til the bus comes.”
I smiled. My head alone peaked out from his navy camel coat as he quizzed me on my spelling words. Warmth at last! The bus came soon after. He kissed my forehead and handed me my book bag as I climbed into the bus. “Have a good day! Love you.”
“Love you too, daddy.”
My dad died at the ripe old age of fifty-seven. Now when I think back to the things I most admired in him it’s the little things I remember. That he protected me from rain and wind. That he taught me boys weren’t villains to be feared. That he pulled my brother and me on sleds through the snow and bought us hot chocolates at a local luncheonette. That he quizzed me before tests, took to me church, and encouraged me to think for myself. That he helped our school principal become principal of the Year from Cousin Brucie by printing up thousands of post cards for us to sign and mail. He never did anything big, he never made a fortune, but those little things added up. He was a great father for a million little reasons.
S.M. McElligott grew up in New York before marrying an Irishman from Brooklyn and moving to the Midwest. An avid reader, chef and world traveler who recently celebrated her fortieth wedding anniversary, she is a proud wife, mother of four and grandmother of five. Her biblical fiction about the Three Wise Men, The Gifts of Man, was published in August 2016. She holds a B.A. in History from St. Bonaventure University and currently resides in TN.