My pajamas were soft. What surrounded my body was more than likely stretchy pants and a worn out, green T. shirt that smelled of diesel fuel and felt like Daddy. I always stole his shirts to sleep in. They were just better. The hems were always thread bare, the pockets worn through.
I sat in a little wooden chair in our living room. The white pine hard wood was chilly beneath my feet. But I never would have admitted it. I liked going barefoot year round to much. The tap and hum of the 20 year old, Dove wood heater was the only noise that drifted through the house.
It was Saturday night and my hair was dripping wet from my getting-ready-for-church-on-Sunday bath.
I wiggled and wrinkled my nose as I sat there, learning patience. Daddy was behind me sitting on the couch, with my curly, blonde hair in his lap that would sweep across the red, GA clay in our back yard if I leaned back in the swing set. Which I often did. Now do you see why I needed a bath?
The ends of my hair were soft and twisted and waved into baby curls that my daddy loved. And that wouldn’t be cut off for many years. That is why, on Saturday night, he and I were the only ones up.
With a plastic, Dollar General comb in one hand, and my hair in the other, he patiently picked apart the rats-nest of a knot that had been constructed out of my untamed hair at the base of my little neck. Those same hands and arms that were taking care of my tangled tresses, were the arms and hands that carried chainsaws and six foot logs. They were the arms and hands that were calloused from a life time made of days full of honest, dirty, long, and hard work.
It seemed as though I sat in that chair for hours. It was probably only 30 minutes. But Daddy was always patient with me.
“Leah-Joy, sit still,” he would say as he slowly picked through the mess with his muscular hands. Those muscles came from carrying me and my six siblings, catching us when we fell, building our home in six months in the 1985. They came from building a company with nothing but a tractor and a chainsaw.
As I sat there in that little, yellow chair, trying my best to be still, and not always succeeding, I knew why I was having my hair brushed. The next morning Daddy would walk up our stairs that each sounded off a different note as you stepped on them. He would come into mine and my sister’s room. One by one he would wake us up and laugh at the drool on our faces.
“C’mon. It’s time to get up. You need to get ready for church.” Because of his patient hands, my curly, waist long, 6 year old hair was ready for church the night before.
By the time he would finish, my thick hair would be dry. He would give me a scruffy kiss goodnight and a pat on the bottom. My little feet would make their way up the creaky, wooden staircase to find my room that Daddy built and crawl into my little, warm, twin bed bed that Daddy designed for me.