I hugged my Dad recently and realised three things:
My dad was about my age when he lost both his parents to debilitating illnesses. Recently, we’ve had a couple of momstown teammates whose dads have fallen ill. Additionally, Julie shared with us her painful double loss of both father and father-in-law while others, like Christy, deal with the fact their dads are just not part of their lives.
There’s something wrong with that picture. Maybe it’s because he’s just part of my pattern that it takes work to actually notice what a connecting influence he is in my life.
I’ve learned the importance of life by watching and listening to my dad retell the little moments, not the big ones. The speech he gave at my wedding 10 years ago was unparalleled. He told a story about a 9 year old me floating buoyant in the sea water snorkelling with him on a family holiday, a moment that I honestly had to struggle to even recall. He described how that moment was his version of heaven on earth and how the beauty of life is in the details. How we need to embrace those teeny moments before they slip through our fingers.
When I steal a glance at Dad watching my three kids, you can tell he is soaking up every detail. He notices the fine minutia within their conversations or actions that I regularly miss in the haze of doing. He’s taken that lesson to heart.
When each of my 3 children arrived by c-section, Dad waited stomach knotted and anxious for news. I never understood why he wasn’t floating around with excitement. It wasn’t until our 3rd child arrived I finally got it. He was distracted from the anticipation of his grandchild because he was scared to death for his own daughter’s safety. My strong, silent Dad wept and shook with gratitude when I rolled out of recovery holding baby Megan.
On the surface I’m closer to my mom but I tell things to Mom, while I ask thoughts of Dad. Sometimes I don’t like what he tells me. Actually, a lot of the time I don’t agree or like his opinion. But I do respect it and include it into the equation, whether I chose that way or not.
When I was a teenager struggling to figure out my path, he once told me I was like a diamond, in the dirt, that had fallen off a rich old lady’s shoe and no one knew I was there. But, when I decided it was my time to sparkle, I would dust off, and I would be noticed. Such a strange, bizarre analogy, however, if you know my dad, you know he’s full of strange (but oddly accurate) analogies.
Recently, I’ve been digging deep to make sure I am following my passion, listening to my gut and making good family focused decisions. I’ve watched Dad watch me. Instead of mirroring me, he usually does the opposite. If I have doubts about myself, he encourages me, pushes me to see the positive in a situation and reminds me I’m that diamond in the dirt. When I’m over-optimistic about something, he plays the other side, and reminds me to think things through, be concise and careful. This must be deliberate as part of his strategy as a parent.
Yes, he’s still parenting, even though I am 35 years old. I’m sure as he works away in his wood shop that his brain is not just on the task at hand. It’s on his family and what we’re doing and how can he carve an impact into our lives.
My dad was a great dad for young kids, but he’s found his groove as a father to adults. Probably because I can see him as a person now, instead of just the guy with his watch out on the kitchen table counting how many minutes I was over curfew.
That person is witty, charming, warm, and he likes to tell 40 year old stories. He’s also stubborn, set in his ways (at 67, he’s allowed) and likes to have a good cranky rant about “the system”. That person may walk at a slower pace but his mind is anything but.
Few things bring me to tears quickly, but imagining my life without my dad in it takes me just seconds to well up. This year, I made a pact to tell my Dad exactly what he means to me. Right here.
I promise to listen more, love more and just be with you more. Happy Father’s Day, Dad. xo