William Hale Egbert. Not a birth dad, but my life dad. We married Daddy when I was in Elm School. 5th grade. I hadn't really wanted another dad, but I figured it was about time (there had already been three) and he was pretty nice.
This became even more apparent as I grew up. Yeah, we fought a LOT and argued and I cried and whined and was a typical bratty, selfish teen. I was punished. The old fashioned way. Sometimes I was grounded and sometimes I was spanked. The last time I got a spanking, I laughed at Daddy and locked him out of my room. I tentatively let him in to wallop me, giggling the whole time. Obviously, I had grown out of spankings. I still got grounded, though.
Daddy was a very patient man. He had to be. My mom, sister, and I were definitely a trial. Even after I ‘escaped’ and went to college (note: almost every girl in HS at this time in AK wanted to escape Outside.), I was still a trial. We didn’t have fancy phones to keep in touch in the 80’s. I had a calling card and payphones. I also got my first credit card when I was in college. I do not recommend this. Daddy couldn’t figure out why I was getting into so much trouble with it. I had made money over the summer, where had it gone? Well, as to where it was, I had no idea. I had gone thru an Agatha Christie phase and hid much of it inside books in my room. As for the credit card, I was paying it off faithfully every month..with the credit card. And then there was that summer where I managed to mislay almost a thousand dollars. Yet, he helped me over those mathematical errors and we went on. Being from Alaska, I got those lovely PFD’s (free money for living in AK) and Daddy, bless his heart, invested them and paid off my Alaskan college loan. The loan I was determined to have only a portion to pay, since I was never ever staying in the states and going back to AK meant much of it would be forgiven. I also had the option to borrow as much as I wanted…since I planned on going back to Alaska, I borrowed all I could. And it was a great deal. Every single day I see friends struggling to pay off their college debts, I am thankful for my Dad’s foresight. I am sure he did more than that, but he never told me and I lived on.
He had wanted me to go to school in AK, but I was determined (see above) to leave and see the world. I did want to try Hawaii, but thought it might not be as much fun as it sounded. So, I went to Portland, OR. I did see some of the world. Through college I went to Korea and had some fun teachers who helped enlighten my miniscule world of boys, classes, and learning how to live with Diabetes.
Daddy had insurance and when I found out I was going to have Diabetes (my real dad was a Diabetic), I knew he’d take care of me. It was hard for him to let me leave the state as a newly diagnosed person with Diabetes. But, he let me and we all survived.
Daddy learned to smoke as a youngster. I never knew him to not smoke. When I was learning to drive, he smoked a great deal. (I will never forget the plume of smoke from the passenger seat as we drove down the road while I listened to his directions. It grew very large when he told me to turn at the next road I knew wasn’t there and accidentally put us inside a willow bush…next to the road that really was there…) Smoking is what killed Daddy. Or COPD. I hated cigarettes with a passion, but loved my Daddy with just as much.
Once I graduated from college and stayed in Oregon, getting back to AK was not easy. It could have been, but I opted to choose not to go home. I wish I had made a different choice. The last trip with the boys was interesting. The planes had been grounded in Portland and Seattle by ice, but I was sure we’d be ok. Dad asked me in Anchorage if I (a) wanted to change my flight til a later one or (b) if I needed any money. He was coughing as he laughed at me when I responded, we’d be fine. It was one stop flight and if we needed cash, the boys had Christmas money. Stupid……We ended up in Seattle for 3 days. The airport, not Seattle. By the time we got home, I knew if Dad ever offered me money again, I’d take it.
The next time I went home, it was to say goodbye. I arrived just days before he left. It was frightening to see the man I admired so much bent low by lack of oxygen. His heart was fine, his lungs were charcoal. He had just turned 65. On Grandma’s birthday, Daddy died. This was several years ago, and it still hurts. I miss not having him call (he got us a message machine cuz we missed so many of his calls), he was the one who made sure mum got us packages on time, he sent notes or letters every so often. And I bet he would have embraced FB. The politics of today might have upset him, but he’d have laughed at the way technology was changing. He loved old things (juke boxes and his 56 Mercury), but he didn’t shy from changes.
I wish he was here to email me and help me with things or to talk. He was a fine man and wonderful dad. I hate cigarettes took him from us so soon. Please, if you are reading this and smoke, please stop. For the sake of the ones who love you. Cancer and COPD are not worth it.