There’s a special place in heaven with my Dad’s name on it. I have two older sisters—making quite an estrogen-filled household. Possibly attributed to this, or perhaps just to the person my father is, I never thought of my Dad as a typical, ass-kicking, Hulk-man. I grew up innocent and oblivious to the idea that some kids grow up in a household that value accessibility over interaction. When I mentioned in class one day that I grew up seeing my father cry (per most human beings) every time they yelled “move that bus” on Extreme Makeover Home Edition, I was not lying.
See, on the father, fatherhood, fathering scale, my Dad truly fathered my sisters and me. He didn’t just see that we had the financial means and appropriate insurance to support us when we were sick. He stayed up with us at night, got the antibiotics we needed at the store, and saw to it that we took them according to directions.
My sisters and I also grew up with a passion for dance. We each danced from the time we were three to the time we were eighteen. We didn’t skip a beat and neither did our father. As most mothers stared in adoration of their daughters, my father sat in his uniform and boots with his eyes glued to no screen but the two-way mirror peering into the dance studio where we learned the difference between first position and second.
And when it came time to write a—gasp—100 word essay in grade school about our hero, I wrote about my Dad. In was the exception to the rule, no doubt, but I didn’t know this. Call me innocent still today, but I didn’t know I was the exception to the rule any more then than I did last year. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not oblivious to a large number of kids who are raised without a present father or parents at all. But when I wrote about my Dad, the words surrounding him as a hero came easily. When I shared my paper with him after receiving it back from my teacher, I’ll never forget the moment he read it. He was sorting laundry and began crying for the first time I can remember. Even though he often told me how proud of me he was, I didn’t need to be told. He showed me.
My father was always and is always expected to do the same things as always. Love and support me unconditionally and teach me the “correct way to eat an Oreo.” Yes, he is absent a little more than he used to be. The reason for this increased absence is for no other reason except that college happened and we are physically more absent. But when it comes to fathering me, he couldn’t be more present.
I call my Dad every Monday and Wednesday when I walk to work at six in the morning before my ten hour shifts. I do this partly because hearing the voice of my father will always make me feel protected even if I am not. But I also do it because we are closer in our relationship than ever. Going off on my own has blessed me with the ability to truly understand all he has done for me to ensure I am a successful and independent adult. Although, I use the word independent very loosely; my parents make it extremely difficult to be emotionally independent.
So cheers to you, Dad. Cheers to the guy that will drive down to Athens in an instant if I need him to. Cheers to the man who is just as irreplaceable in the mind of my 10 year old self as he is in the mind of my 21 year old self. Love you forever & always.
it’s an outlet. it’s an inspiration. it’s a gift. it’s a purpose