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I know that this post is kind of ‘a day late and a dollar short,’ but I spent a good portion of my weekend with my mom and dad, which is the point of Mother’s and Father’s Day, anyhow.
My relationship with my father is intensely complicated…and it’s unbelievably simple. I love him, and he loves me. No matter how we’ve changed, or fought, or frozen each other out over the years, I had him and he had me, and we were lucky enough to have a relationship.
When everything goes completely off kilter in my world, and up is down, and right is left, all I have to do is go and hug him, and things even out, straighten out. I know it’s an illusion – he can’t slay all of my dragons (that’s my job) – but there’s something about his hugs that make all the bad things fade into the background, and that make me remember that I can do this (whatever it is).
My dad’s a ‘still waters run deep’ kind of a guy. He doesn’t spend words like they’re free – and you’re better off dropping an idea or a question in his lap and then coming back in a few days to see what he’s come to, instead of demanding answers on the spot. He’s the kind of man who has to chew on a thing for a while before he decides how it tastes.
You know you’re in his inner circle when he acts the goof and the clown in front of you. I get some of my playful and pranksterish tactics from having watched him. Every year, our family would sit down to watch The Wizard of Oz together on our ancient television. And every year, he’d wait until the three of us kids were completely enraptured and absorbed, waiting to see what would happen to Dorothy, waiting to see if, this time, the witch would triumph….and then, he’d scream at the top of his lungs, scaring the bejesus out of all of us! And, we’d go and cluster around him, seeking safety. Dirty rat (said in the most affectionate manner possible).
I get my work ethic from both of my parents, but mostly from Dad. He works so hard – too hard. And he’s spent more vacations painting our house or fixing something than any man should. (Thanks).
I spent a different kind of time with him. We used to walk around the yard and ‘visit’ each of the trees, each of the gardens, and I’d ask him questions. It was quiet time – meditative, but I know he’d balk at that term. He’s philosophical, but he’d deny that, too.
When I chose to go out on my own, and become a Reiki Master Teacher and go into business with Dani, he didn’t understand exactly what I did, or why I’d want to do it. And, being a father, he worried (worries) about me. Despite that, he’s proud of me, and believes that I can do whatever I put my mind to.
Thanks, Dad, for being there.
Thanks for having my back, even though you don’t understand why or what I’m doing half the time.
Thanks for every talk in the basement, watching you plane out a new piece of furniture.
Thanks for singing along with the radio – I could hear it come up through the air vent into my room, and I will never forget the sound of it. It comforted me in ways you cannot imagine.
Thanks for going along with (most of) my grand schemes, even though you wondered why I’d want to bother – and especially thanks, since most of them involved some labor on your part.
Thanks for shellacking all of the odd things I bring to you. I know that it’s a lot more work and effort than you make it out to be.
Thanks for being a brave enough guy to ask your daughters what kind of tampons we wanted from the store, and going to get them.
Thanks for thinking that no guy would ever really be good enough for me.
Thanks for all the late night chats. Thanks for always taking my calls.
Thanks for fixing my car before I even knew it was busted. Thanks for coming to the rescue when it busted before any of us knew it needed fixing.
Thank you for all the things that you are: from the persnickety to the playful, from the silly to the serene.
Thank you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day!
There’s something like a line of gold thread running through a man’s words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself. (John Gregory Brown, Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery, 1994)
Each year, I struggle to meet both of my father’s rules for gift giving:
Rule #1: Don’t spend any money.
Rule #2: Don’t spend any time.
Each year, in one way or another, I fail to meet those criteria. Except this year. This year, I made my father a keepsake art book — and told him that the money I’d spent I would’ve spent anyway, and that the time I spent was such a joy, it shouldn’t count. His birthday is today.
Happy birthday Dad!