We all have them. Those memories....indelible impressions which are so infused with emotion and personal meaning that they exist on deserted islands within our minds for as long as we exist.
Based on my adult knowledge of timelines in the 60's, this had to have occurred in about 1969, when I was around four years old.
I was in downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee with my aunt Cathy and my grandmother, who was feeding one of the street parking meters. They had brought me downtown to window shop and keep me occupied for a couple of hours. Unknown to me, my father had just returned from duty in Vietnam. I didn't understand until years and years later that he had been awake for days, traveling across the world. As he trekked through each airport closer and closer to home, he was subjected to increasing disgust and hostility on the part of an ungrateful, politically charged public.
Cathy was the one who spilled the beans--let the cat out of the bag when my four year old acute hearing picked up "the father" out of an otherwise generic, droning adult conversation. "The Father" was CathySpeak--what she hoped was indecipherable code for "her dad". My mind raced and I instantly knew. My Daddy was home!!!! An argument and scuffle ensued. I was...let's call it, a strong willed little girl. Nothing would do until they took me to him--NOW. Cathy and Mamaw must have given up, exasperated and worn down.
Excitement built on what was probably a 20 minute ride back to my grandparent's house. My little legs flew to the doorstep, into the house and up the three stairs to the first bedroom on the left. I opened the door and there he was! I don't remember his face, his weariness, or even what he said. My heart pounding, I rushed into the room and was scooped up into two strong arms......my Daddy was home.