Usually, Mondays are all about Mommies. But yesterday was Father's Day, so I thought I'd honor my dad instead.
I wrote this for Father's Day last summer, and when I read back over it I couldn't think of anything more true than these words about my father. So here they are again. Originally published on June 21, 2009.
I have rarely spent a Father's Day with my dad. As a kid, I was always away in the summer. As an adult, I live 1,500 miles away in either direction. But I always think of him, and am so grateful that I came from him.
There are so many things I could say about my daddy. And, yes, I still call him daddy. So does my sister. It doesn't feel inappropriate. It's just his name.
I could say how he is the one who instilled in me a love of reading and British history. I could say how he taught me never to write anything down that I wouldn't want to be read someday. I could say that his political activism took me to places, literally and figuratively, that I might never have gone.
I could say the way he feeds his friendships has been a model for the most important relationships in my life. I could say that his subscription to People magazine and general love of entertainment made me curious about Los Angeles.
I could say that the gentle way he parents and grandparents melts my heart. How he always has a kid in his arms, and how I'm jealous that my nieces and nephews get all that love on a weekly basis.
I could say, and want to say, that two of my favorite memories with him are watching Gwyneth accept the Oscar for Shakespeare in Love (he seemed to understand why I was crying), and walking down the aisle on his arm, both of us so proud.
All of these things are true, and all of them I am thankful for on this Father's Day. But thing stands about the rest, and I'm not sure I've ever told him this.
My dad had a difficult childhood. It was difficult for numerous reasons, and never let up. Eventually he made his own path, and his own family, and is successful on all fronts.
It would have been so easy to play the sympathy card, the You-Don't-Know-How-Well-You-Have-It card, and he never has. Not once. Any bitterness or sadness he holds onto is his alone. I find this remarkable. I didn't even realize how remarkable I found it until last night, when I was thinking about him, and it dawned on me that we always just sort of gloss over the early part of dad's life. A smaller man would have put this burden on us, made us constantly aware and grateful for all that he has overcome.
Oh, I'm sure he must have thought it. When we were teenagers and complaining about this, that, or the other thing, I'm sure that must have touched some kind of nerve. But he never brought it up. "See what I've given you," has never come out of his mouth. My parents were both so natural at parenting, I thought everyone just did it, and did it right. You grow up, you have kids, you love 'em, it's just life.
They made it look so easy.
I have married a man who really isn't much like my father. More than once I have thought to myself, "That is not how my dad would dock the boat/load the car/answer the question." It's a high standard for The Gorilla, but it's the only standard I have. The bar has been set by a very special man.
Happy Father's Day, daddy.
top picture of Pigtail and her grandfather, Christmas 2009
bottom picture of me and my father at my high school graduation, May 1997