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A stubborn daughter's journey home
Sacrifices of single father not appreciated until adulthood
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Forsyth County News
The first moment I missed home was actually on Father's Day two years ago.
But I would never have admitted it at the time, however profound the revelation. As homage, I'll confess it all now.
My father, Wayne Moore, raised me by himself on a stonemason's wages. He longingly retells stories of scraping by, living in less desirable areas of Atlanta.
Had I fully computed this sacrifice as a teenager, I probably would have been less rebellious. In some ways, our paths paralleled.
In his late teens, dad left home for the Little Five Points area of Atlanta, where he played flute in a band. I live now in the same apartment complex he did then.
Sometime after he left home, I was born.
My first memories of dad include blasting that flute on Saturday mornings, improvising and harmonizing with famous Southern rock songs, flipping pancakes, burning toast.
He was the perfect merger of rocker and Mr. Mom. He changed my diapers and combed my thick, curly hair.
When I was old enough, he'd "play hooky," which meant fishing and concerts instead of school and work.
If I wanted cookies, he'd bake cookies. If he wanted to go exploring in the country, I'd roll up my jeans so as not to get snagged on a fence.
He was coolest dad ever ... until it was time for me to date. Oh, the dating years were turbulent.
There are no two people who are more stubborn. Putting us in a room too long was like putting two scorpions in a box and shaking.
So I left at 18 for college with no plans of returning to stay. To keep those plans, I took absurd measures.
I nearly joined the Army one summer because I didn't have a place to live. Luckily, that same summer, I was recruited by the National Seashore to do research on West Ship Island, off the Mississippi coast.
When I graduated from college in 2006, again, I had nowhere to live, staying instead on friends' couches.
The couch surfing was rough and my bosses at The Times in Gainesville joked about setting up a cot for me in the newsroom library.
Eventually, I'd get an apartment in Gainesville with two friends. Still, I didn't have a bed and living at the speed of light wore me down.
And nothing disrupts sleep like a domestic dispute. It seemed my neighbors were constantly fighting.
I learned a lot quickly during that time, including: employment doesn't fall in anyone's lap, at least not for long; self-reliance is far safer than a crowd; I was totally frail.
When I returned home that year for Father's Day, dad was steaming asparagus and baking salmon. Not for the holiday, but because I had come home.
He never knew when I might pop in. I didn't deserve the special meal.
He hugged me and said, "Thanks for coming home. I hope you're being safe up there."
I was feeling too choked up to talk much so I said simply, "It's good to be home."
He had no idea how much I meant it. I can't wait to see him today.