I have a pretty strong dislike of greeting cards. Why on earth would I pay $5 for Hallmark to generically say what I want to stay to someone? Now please don’t take this to mean you shouldn’t send me cards anymore. I very much love getting mail that is not bills, and the occasional card in the mail has been known to brighten my whole week. My only request is that you write something slightly personal in it. I also learned how great card sending is recently in the wake of my grandma’s death at 95 years old. I always knew she never missed marking a birthday, anniversary, or special occasion with a card. What I didn’t know was that every month, she sat down and prepared her cards for every special event coming up. In fact, we had to warn a few people that my grandma had put their card in the mail as she went to the hospital, so don’t be too surprised when you get a gift from beyond. And thank you cards. I LOVE WRITING THANK YOU CARDS. I always have to refrain from sending a thank you card after receiving a thank you card to thank them for their thankfulness. It could lead to a vicious cycle. Just like this tangent I’ve found myself on here.
Anyways, I didn’t get my dad a Father’s Day card. In fact, I don’t even have a gift to give him when I head home for the summer today. Granted, I did buy him a wallpaper steamer and redid his home office for him. I also plan on doing more wallpaper removal this summer, you know, while eating all of his food, using his air conditioning, and making him drive me to airports. I’ll also buy him dinner, you know, to outweigh all of the meals he feeds me. I also made him a bomb Instagram post, filled with pictures reminding him of the days when he had more hair. But what better way to pay tribute to my dad than with a blog post?
If you are reading this blog at all, there is a pretty good chance that the only reason you are reading it is because he emailed it to you saying he might be biased, but you really ought to read what his daughter, the writer (actually I’m a math teacher but I appreciate the vote of confidence), wrote. If you aren’t all that impressed, I’m really okay, but please tell my dad you are because it’s pretty cool to see him beam with pride. I’m waiting for the day when he prints my URL on business cards and starts handing it out to strangers. After all, this is the same man who once pulled up a picture of a dinner my brother had prepared all by himself and showed it off to a waitress at The Melting Pot, beaming “My son made this!” He also LOVES to force people to sit through tales of my teaching. The man is proud of his kiddos, as he should be. We would not be the people we are if it were not for him.
My dad always worked so hard to give me the whole wide world, while instilling in me that I was entirely capable of going out there an conquering it myself. There was never a passion or a pursuit that he did not stand behind me 100% on (although when I decided I wanted an archery set because that was how I was going to achieve my Olympic dreams, he stood VERY far behind me). One day in grade school, I came home and told him that me (and my crooked femurs, another post for another time) had decided to become a basketball player, and in order to do that, I needed a basketball hoop pronto. The next day, there was a beautiful hoop cemented into our driveway. Now my basketball days were short lived, but every time I see that hoop, I’m reminded that my dad truly believes I can do anything.
Since college, my dad has called me every Wednesday night. Granted, in college, I always took a Wednesday night class, and I would always walk out to a voicemail that went something like, “Hi Laura, sorry I missed you! You must be working or studying hard. Just calling to catch up, no need to call back. Your mom told me about (insert recent event here). Hope you are well. Love you!” Every week I would text him that I was sorry I missed his call, I was in class (again). We always counted on my mom to fill him in, or our annual spring break trip, or summer adventures to catch up. When my mom was sick, I was contemplating some big life changes. Usually it would have been my mom who I would talk through my thoughts with, but she was so weak and her voice so strained that talking on the phone was hard. So I called my dad. I actually think it was probably on a Wednesday. He passed his first parenting test. And I must say, he did much better than the time I called home mid panic attack as I was overwhelmed right before I started my first real job. I believe it went a little something like “Umm, hi, are you okay? No? I don’t know what to do for you. Here’s your mom.”
Now he calls every Wednesday, and I always answer. It’s definitely way more me talking and him listening, but he’ll listen to tales of whatever shenanigans I’ve gotten myself into the past week, the rants and raves about my students, my frustrations and hopes, and whatever plan I’m working on. He’s become quite the expert at giving me personal and professional advice, all while making me feel empowered to make my own decisions. He even answers my occasional hysterical phone calls without being like, “New phone, who dis?” On that note, I’m also grateful that he attempts to keep up with all of the “hip” lingo I learn from my students and has finally stopped telling people that I invented the phrase YOLO.
When we aren’t catching up over phone calls, we are chatting over dinner or on long walks or hikes. He never says no to trying a new vacation destination, dinner spot, or adventure. He’s also finally accepted that when we are traveling and I find something that I want to eat and say that it’s not a very far walk, it’s actually a very far walk and “not too much longer!” means that we have at least a half hour of walking left ahead of us. He thinks Uber is the neatest, and I have to believe it has a little something to do with these adventures.
My dad and I had always had a special bond, but the loss of my mom completely evolved our relationship. I would not have survived the past two years without his strength and support. I look for silver linings in all things, and the bond we have built through some of life’s toughest moments is so special.
My dad gave me his broad shoulders that will never fit properly into a jean jacket, his love of naps, a passion for quality music, his appreciation of a good meal and a glass of red wine, his patience, his unrelenting kind heart, and his pursuit of a job well done. He gives me strength and wisdom and independence. He gives me a place to always come home to and keeps our landline exclusively because I’m not ready to give up my childhood phone number. He gives me laundry detergent, toilet paper, a bottle of wine, and a crisp $20 when being an adult is a bit tough.
When my dad thinks proudly of my accomplishments, big and small, I hope that he realizes it is a mirror reflecting directly back at him. I would not be who I am or able to do the things I do if it were not for him. You da real MVP, Papa G. They don’t make them any better than you.
As someone who lost a parent and has also witnessed strained relationships in a family, I know that Parent’s Days can be oh so bittersweet. It can be hard to open your email inbox, walk through the store, or scroll through social media without being reminded of the void that is in your life. Teaching taught me how blessed I was to grow the relationship with my parents that I have. Losing my mom taught me how hard these days are when it seems like everyone else has their mom or dad to celebrate with and you do not. So if today is hard for you, I’m thinking of you. If your dad wasn’t the man he should have been, I hope you learn from his mistakes and realize he missed out on knowing an incredible human. If you lost your dad, old or young, my heart hurts for you. I hope you are filled with fond memories. If nothing else, I hope there is a man in this world who helped make you who you are today. Make sure he knows it.