Papa BlueBarry Bush

Posted in Monthly at 12:42 pm by Pasha

By Pasha Holiday

He walks with a heavy lean to the right, and then the left. His joints are weary.

Seventy-five years of drool on his laugh lines, tattoos and weathered skin, define his frame. The interior, of course is a bit of the same as the outward, but a whole lot softer, marked by sacrifice and restraint.

His parts are wearing out. My Papa spent the bulk of his life climbing cable towers, drinking Jack Daniels, and loving with forgiveness.

My Pops fell in love with, and ultimately chose to marry, a divorcee with seven broken and bruised kids. With a teen pregnancy cooking, an abusive ex-husband, and banshee offspring who would never be considered respectful, my mother was still his catch. Mama’s infinite care, resonating joy, and similar love for the hard party, made them a perfect, if not suitable, match.

And he had money.

She really needed money.

We were all living in a two and a half bedroom, one bath house, down the road from our real father, whose mental health illness and addictions would keep him from us, when we met mom’s boyfriend, Barry.

Papa loves to tell the story of that day he met a tender, attention-seeking girl, no more than six or seven. I bounced to him with great confidence , he says, and proclaimed, “My name is Pasha, what’s yours?”

That day he rescued me, he rescued us all in so many ways. He keeps rescuing us.

We moved to his already deceased parents house. It had an indoor pool and a bar in the basement. It was on a fancy street in a town bigger and fancier than we had known.

They built a new, even more indulgent house, a redwood log cabin. This one was my mom’s design, her dream. She had arrived and it was all because Papa had fallen so deep into infatuation that he would have done anything to keep it.

Yup, our mom had won the lottery for us kids. But it wasn’t because of the money. She gave us a chance to have a father. They burned through the money his parents had left him in a few short years. The solid, unconditional, BIG love that mama gifted us with when she chose him to be her husband, will never be spent.

Life moved quickly, as lives, especially children’s, do. Papa made mistakes along the way. So did mama. Along with those savage mistakes came great triumphs, truths, and realities for our family.

Pops never wavered. Through all the cheating, lock-ups, abuse, drugs and alcohol, love affairs, repossessions, moves, broken hearts, babies, beatings, and growing up that the nine of us have done, it’s been with our papa being the dad. Because a dad,a father, is not just a person who makes a baby. It’s a man who shows up to all of life’s drama, disaster, elation, and unbridled happiness.

Each time my heart suffered under the weight of some guy who had crushed it, he reminded me, “Men are like trolley cars, another will be here before you know it.” Of course, he was right. Papa was the first person in our family to meet Matt (Papa was sleeping on my couch in Florida, at the time.)

“He is a good guy, the neighbor,” he told me.

I danced with my dad the night I got married, as most daughters do. He cried, wiping his nose with a bandana that he keeps in his back pocket. He always cries when us girls go through something big. That’s a father’s love.

He has been a gentle guide, following mama’s lead, and a repentant human. My Pops taught me that while an old dog isn’t keen on new tricks, he tries his damndest to perform them anyway.

Even when that father is approaching 76-years-old and his daugher calls. He is there, ready to remind her that she should be writing, kicking motherhoods ass, bossing folks, and jumping into new adventures and experiences. He keeps reminding her of that exuberant, confident girl that fearlessly made it out to travel, live in cities, and live life on her terms.

Papa has never let me forget these part of who I am. Even when they are covered in fish guts, tears, wayward dreams, and soul-crushing doubt.

My father is my constant, my boy’s Papa Bluebarry Bush (he has always been Papa Barry, my boys added the color to it years ago.) He is the reason I can describe the ways a father is there for his child. I can tell them that a father’s love is big enough to get and give tears and to say words their kids don’t want to hear but need to.

When I have been away for too long and come home to the home that my parents built more than 30-years-ago, Papa is usually the first to greet us. I relish in his long, strong hugs, mixed with aftershave and coffee. His stubble scratches my cheek when I take in a deep breath, knowing that none of us have forever.

I don’t have to send my Papa a link to this blog because he checks it often, the way only a parent would. When I have had longer writing droughts, he pushes me, asking when the next blog will hit. When I write, my dad is the first person I think of reading it.

Without my Papa Bluebarry Bush I would have been just another fatherless daughter, wondering if all men hurt and abandon their wives and children. Because of my father, I know that men are capable of unconditional love and understanding, even for children that came to them by choice.