My oldest and dearest friend came here and surprised me yesterday. I LOVED seeing her, LOVED it. I am reclusive but there are a few people who will always be welcome no matter where I am or what I’m doing. She knows she’s one of those people which, I assure you, says a whole helluva lot more for the guest than it does for the hostess.
We call her dad BDS, short for Big Danny Stevens from a birthday poem I wrote for him once; “Big Danny Stevens respected by all, into his bad graces we sometimes would fall.” I still address him as Mr. Stevens. I can’t imagine calling a man of his stature anything BUT Mr. Stevens. He thinks it’s funny that I insist on this little formality after all these years and all the trouble I’ve gotten into with his daughter. It’s a small thing but it is a measure of the unfailing respect I have for the man, and for the dad.
My oldest and dearest friend has generously included me in her family over the years. She’s encouraged my relationships with her siblings and her children but perhaps the most generous thing she ever did was lend me her dad. Her dad came home on the weekends and he’d swing his daughters around in a big circle and me too. He’d make sure his kids went to mass and me too. He had a big, booming, yelling voice and he’d yell at his kids and ME TOO!
Throughout my childhood all of my friends had fathers. Divorce was cutting edge back then. There was no other Dad that I coveted as much as I coveted Mr. Stevens. He paid attention to his kids in a way that I wished my absent father would. I remember watching Papillon with him, he’d seen it and explained some of the background to us. He listened to what we had to say because he cared about what we thought. When I had Sunday dinner at his house he’d watch my plate to be certain I wasn’t neglecting the vegetables, then when dinner was over he’d give me the same marching orders he gave his own girls, “Get up and do the damn dishes so Mary (Mrs. Stevens) can rest.” Mr. Stevens had 8 kids of his own but there was always room at his table for a couple of strays. When he hugged you, you knew he meant it. He’s Big Danny Stevens for a lot of reasons: big man, big family, big hopes, BIG HEART.