Matthew Peregoy’s “The Real Matt Daddy” blog has been running a series on #RealFatherhoodStories. This is from Shannon, of Lady’s Makes and Bakes, and is reprinted from The Real Matt Daddy with permission.
Connect Four was our game. The game that my daddy and I played in the living room on the brown, shaggy carpet in the evenings before bed. I remember being “red” and he “black” because he always let me choose my color, and I wanted red. He was smoke and I was fire. This was our time together. Instead of watching a TV program before bed, we played Connect Four.
My hair was always freshly washed, damp and braided, leaving a trail of water dripping down the middle of my back. My jammies consisted of my daddy’s old mustard- yellow basketball jersey, number twenty-five. It was his, so I loved it.
When it was my turn he would let me take as long as I needed, sometimes staring at the board for several minutes at a time, carefully planning my next move. And the move after that, and the move after that, all the while anticipating his next series of moves. I was a seven-year-old little girl savoring every precious moment.
He didn’t let me win. And this fierce competition made me learn strategy, patience, and how to win (and lose) gracefully. At least I think he didn’t let me win.
I remember the overwhelming excitement when I realized I had him “trapped.” That no matter where he went, on my next move I would win. I remember the anxiety I felt when I had three red game pieces in a row, praying he didn’t see it, and trying my very best not to look in that direction. I remember the disappointment I felt when I saw his black game piece land, the fourth in a row, therefore losing.
I remember begging for “just one more game!” trying to stay up later than I was supposed to. Sometimes he’d let me, and I felt like I was getting away with murder. Sometimes it was bed time.
I was never overly disappointed upon losing, for I knew I would have another chance at redemption the next night. I also tried not to gloat upon winning, for I knew he would probably win the next game.
I was a seven-year-old little girl who had just gone to bed after playing Connect Four with my daddy. A little girl who didn’t know that it was the last time I would play this game with my daddy. The last time that I would spend quality time with my daddy. The last time that I would get to see my daddy.
Because the very next day, my daddy passed away.
Now, as a parent, I try to cherish every moment I have with my children. That’s not always easy to do, especially on the days when I feel like we are in survival mode and are just trying to get through the day, but it is always in the back of my mind. And when I see my husband playing games with our daughter, just as I had once done with my daddy, I overflow with love. And I want to savor those moments forever.
Because they could be gone the very next day.
Read more in the Real Fatherhood series.
Photo credit: DQmountaingirl/Flickr