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Reflecting a year after his death, I discover I am my father’s daughter

Throughout my entire life, I think it’s safe to say I was a daddy’s girl. I was the baby of the family — the one who had to be looked after.
My dad would say, “Worm, (that was my childhood nickname) get your sister to do it.”
Now that I’m older, I detest being called Worm. But now that my father is gone, I’d give anything to hear him say it. It was exactly a year ago today that my father, Dewitt Patterson, died from cancer.
You know those moments in history when you can recall with vivid detail where you were and what you were doing. Hearing the news of his death was my unforgettable moment in history.
It was a Friday and I was covering a murder trial. I took a break to check my phone messages. I had a voicemail telling me he was gone. It was like someone punched me in my chest.
It took me an hour to compose myself before making the ride home to South Carolina and into the arms of my mother.
There were of course many tears shed the days leading up to the funeral. While everyone else around us were getting those last minute Christmas gifts, my sister, Denitra, and I were picking out a tie to go with the suit my dad would wear for the last time. The day of the funeral friends shared memories of my father. Some of the stories I had never heard and others were just plain funny.
Everyone who knew my father knew his favorite saying, “Greeaat Day.”
If I told him a part on my car was broken and I needed money to help fix it. He would say, “Greeaat Day,” after I told him how much it cost. When he moved me from college and discovered we couldn’t get on the elevator but instead had to walk to the seventh floor. He of course said, “Greeaat Day.”
He may have said his favorite phrase, but he never hesitated to help me when I needed him.
When I needed a little extra cash, he would flip open his wallet and unearth cash from his secret compartment that wasn’t so secret.
When I was little and in my “hairdresser” stage, he would let my sister and I put our bows in his hair. Sometimes we didn’t ask, but when he’d awake from a nap, he’d have a head full of his little girls’ hairbows.
He rode a Harley Spokester and often rode my sister and I around the neighborhood. My mom was nervous, but we loved it. He loved to travel and always captured family moments on his Polaroid camera.
I caught the traveling bug early on and have been around the world. I guess I am my father’s daughter.
My friends who know me know I take pictures of everything. I guess I am my father’s daughter.
When I went to his home after the funeral I wanted one thing — a hat, which my dad always wore. He would bend the brim and wear it low. I have added his navy New York baseball cap to my own hat collection.
Sometimes I just wear it at home while I’m washing dishes or watching television because it feels like he’s there.
I think in many ways I just got to the point where I began to feel again. It’s numbing to lose a parent.
I try not to think about the milestones he’ll miss like walking me down the aisle. Instead I focus on the milestones we shared like Christmases, my graduation from high school, college and my first job post college.
I caught myself saying “Greeaat Day” recently and had to chuckle. I am indeed my father’s daughter.

Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.

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