My sister and I call my father Daddy. He is the smartest and quietest man I have ever met. Every time I put on something pretty and asked him how I looked, he would answer “alright”. He doesn’t tell me that I am beautiful to him, but he wrote it in a letter once.
My dad didn’t cheer me on from a bleacher or a theatre seat too often, but he always made sure I got to every lesson or practice on time and he was always waiting for me when I got out.
When I cried, he never said a word. He didn’t hold my hand or hug me. I never expected him to. It just wasn’t his style. But I have known, without a doubt, every second of my life that my father loved me.
My father yelled at me one time. I was seventeen and cussed like a sailor. In one of the scariest moments of my life, my father, through gritted teeth, called me a gutter mouth and told me that he would not have it in his house anymore. Then he proceeded to tell me that he understood why I was having a hard time and gave me a fine explanation about a green-eyed monster that I really needed to hear that year.
I have moved approximately 12 times since I left home as a kid, and one of the only things I haven’t lost or thrown away over the years are four letters from my daddy. The first one was written when I was eleven. It cautioned me about peer pressure and explained how one day I would grow up and those things that seemed so big now were going to just seem like stepping stones and lessons. The second was when the person I was in love with died suddenly in an accident. It told me that he knew all too well the pain of losing someone you love, but that I needed to focus on how fortunate I was to have loved like that. And in my father’s own yogic way, he reminded me to always live my life in the present and let go of the past. The third one was written after I made a big mistake at my first “real” job. He told me to hold my head up, stop recalling what I had done and that if that was the worst thing I will ever do, then I was in pretty good shape. The last letter was written when I was getting back on my feet after feeling like life had been beating me down. He just told me that we were on the journey of life together and how proud he was of all I had accomplished in such a short time.
My father taught me that you don’t have to have the right words to say or give a grand gesture to convey your feelings. He taught me that your presence and dependability speak volumes and that love isn’t something you say, it’s something you do. He taught me the value of words and actions.
On this Father’s Day, all I can feel is grateful for the gift of my father’s love. In this generation of the absent and dead-beat dad, I have a sadness for every child who didn’t get to have a father like mine. He admitted to me (in a letter) that he had no idea what kind of parent he would be. I am figuring out this parenting thing as I go, but I feel confident and strong in my motherhood because of the awesome example my father set.