Ladies and Gentlemen: My Dad
June 16, 2012 § 2 Comments
I keep getting junk emails about things to get my father for Father’s Day. And I keep laughing. They’re all so incongruouswhen I think of them with my dad. I can just see myself handing him a bright orange Lacoste polo (what?) or a grill (lol) or a tie!! My dad doesn’t wear any colors other than blue, khaki, or white, I think. (And his plaid jacket in the winter.) He might grill if we bought one, if it wasn’t too hot outside. And by too hot, I mean over 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Oh and there would need to be a breeze, for sure. A tie? He has ties. I don’t think he needs any more ties. I don’t think he wants any more ties. The best thing I can think of to get my Dad for Father’s Day is a weekend trip to Mount Saviour Monastery. Surrounded by the mountains and forests, all alone, just him and the sheep… and the chapel with Jesus inside.
You know those country songs you always hear, either about fathers or sung by a father… about how they love their little girl and she is their princess and they’ll shoot any boy who breaks her heart? I always kind of chuckled at them, not because they’re silly (they’re not, they’re very sweet), but because my Dad managed to teach me all the lessons of those songs without ever once telling me I’m a princess (I’m not) or offering to shoot a boy for me (thank you, Dad). Instead of telling me to dream big, to achieve whatever I wanted to be, Dad quietly agreed with me when I decided not to attend college after high school and took a local job. He never once made me feel like I needed to ‘do more’ with my life, or that I wasn’t going to ‘accomplish’ enough if I didn’t have higher education. He helped me write my first resume, and when I was at the interview for my first full-time job, he gathered my younger siblings in the living room and led them in a Rosary. That is such a good example of the best thing my father has done for me: taught me to keep Jesus at the forefront of every choice in my life. He didn’t have to tell me I was a princess; he made sure I knew I was a child of God. We may not have lived in a beautiful home with a garage and air conditioning (heck, or even a dishwasher!), but when Dad and Mom took us for countryside drives out to Wellsboro and Ricketts Glen State Park, I felt like I owned the world. Sitting there in the station wagon with the wind in my hair and the glorious hope of a stop at the ice cream place on my mind, I learned without even knowing it that I was loved, I was secure.
It wasn’t a shiny red sports car but Dad did buy me my first car: my big old white Buick Regal. Man, I loved that car. Nobody messed with me on the road. And when I had my accident in March of 2007, falling asleep at the wheel and waking up to the sickening lurch of tires and hideous scraping metal, the wide front end of that old Buick kept me safer than any sports car. My father never yelled at me, not once, after my accident. I called him at 3 o’clock in the morning, crying and sick with shame that I had done something so stupid: torn up my car and sideswiped two parked cars along with it. He made sure I was okay, came and picked me up, and never scolded me.
One of my favorite things about my parents is the way they share a sense of humor. There’s laughter in their relationship, a lot of it, and the same love for (really) weird things: aliens… late night talk radio shows about aliens… bad weather… vacations to places with bad weather… Ahem. Anyway. My father might not have bought me designer clothes or a cell phone or a credit card, but I learned the best lessons of my life from watching him. Here are a few of the best things about my father:
- He would go to the prison to visit Mr. Deck and have to wait for hours beforehand in the visitors room, but he never complained. He just sat there and read books and waited multiple hours to spend an hour in a visit, because he knew that Mr. Deck needed him.
- When we were all little kids, we would start chanting “McDonalds!” or “Burger King!” any time we were going on a car ride somewhere. My father would sigh and say “Okay… I guess we can stop this once…”, slow the car down amidst raucous cheering, and then say “Changed my mind!!!” and speed off away from the restaurant. (Somehow this is funnier now that I am older…. also I seem to remember Mom wasn’t such a fan of this little maneuver.)
- My dad taught me how to play Scrabble and gave me a Bible for my First Holy Communion that I still use.
- He makes the BEST scrambled eggs and pancakes. His scrambled eggs are better than anyone’s.
- He taught me how to be reverent at Mass. When you see me at Mass, sitting still and paying attention, know that it’s because I’ve got my dad’s words about the Real Presence of Jesus ringing in my ears.
I’m not going to lie, I’m probably not getting my dad a gift for Father’s Day. He isn’t much of a gift receiver. I hope he reads this though. I hope he reads it and understands that there isn’t any gift in the world I could give him that would top what he’s given me: my Catholic faith, my family. An example of a real man.
PS- For those of you wondering why I did not make a Mother’s Day post about my mom like this one… well, there are two reasons. The first is that I was in Michigan on Mother’s Day, playing with The Babe. The second reason? My mom is too cool for words. She’s basically like Frodo, Belle, and Scully all rolled into one (petite) package of awesomeness.