When I talk to different women about the relationships they have with their fathers, it tends to run the gamut. It’s luck of the draw as we are born into this world and assigned a ‘father’.
These essential, yet unique, relationships range from best friends, to acquaintances, to strangers and everything in between. These kinships can be complicated, frustrating and confusing, as well as, one of the safest places to feel trust and unconditional love.
I was lucky. Very lucky. I won the lottery as far as Dad’s go and ended up getting the best friend. However, we took a good 33 years to build that relationship. And it certainly wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies.
To begin with, my dad wasn’t a ‘kids’ kind of guy. Well, in the sense that he really had no clue what to do when I entered the scene. Baby talk, 2am feedings and tantrums just weren’t his gig. Can’t say I blame him. It also didn’t help that I was a rambunctious toddler with a spicy tongue. It probably made some of our earlier encounters seem more like wild-west showdowns over who was going to eat those last 2 carrots. The Great Battle of the Wills. Dad drew the line in the sand while I masterminded my strategy of getting my accomplice Copper the dog close enough to smuggle those last 2 veggies to the ground.
What I know now is that we were learning each other. He watched as I grew into this unique individual while also seeing his own reflection in only the way DNA can do. We always had a common thread as we evolved as people, embracing our different roles as father and daughter.
As I have gotten older, I have become more aware of my dad’s personal journey. I realized that just because he came before me and I have placed him on a grand pedestal, that doesn’t mean he was above mistakes and consequences. I think about the obstacles he had to overcome as a boy and young adult. How boldly he protected me so I would never have the same hardships. When I realize the emotional weight he carried from his past and so bravely persevered to create our beautiful future, it is nothing short of a miraculous journey.
I take such pleasure in seeing the wonderful men my girlfriends have chosen to be with and watching the love grow between their husbands and children. I see the happiness in their eyes and the light in their smiles, knowing I held the same enamoured grin when I would look at my dad.
I watch as they let the kids do things mom just wouldn’t go for because the activity would be deemed too ‘unsafe’. Or twirl them around one more time, after saying ten minutes ago it was the last one. And taking the time to tell them why things are the way they are. Over and over and over again. It’s a gift like no other.
I am grateful to have had time and dialogue with my father so I could better understand his life story. I still benefit from his wisdom as I hit my own roadblocks in life. There was nothing better than to be able to sit next to my dad and discuss without judgment, my dreams, thoughts, fears and aspirations.
I look back on these gifts he quietly gave me over the years. The gift of patience, listening and unconditional love. I believe, as I rested my head on my father’s chest, listening to his very last breath, he knew the person he brought into this world was forever grateful for him.
To all the fathers out there: Happy Fathers Day. And Thank You.