Ever since I wrote a Mother’s Day post, I have been attempting to construct one for Father’s Day, but it has always seemed more difficult for me to do so. Our relationship has often been more contentious that either of us have wanted it to be, but that’s sometimes the case when people are alike in certain ways.
When I was very little, I was afraid to be taken care of by anyone but my mom– that included my dad. I would cry whenever she left me alone with him. I know that had to be difficult since I am an only child. Later on, though, we bonded over the 1966 Batman TV show, orange and spice tea, reading the Sunday morning comics, and wheelbarrow rides in the fall. They didn’t plan on having any children, and after I was born, they decided not to have any more. I don’t know if my dad had wanted a boy, but if he did, I never felt it. He played catch and frisbee with me– with varying degrees of success, given my poor eye-hand coordination. He showed me how to troubleshoot a running toilet and replace a kitchen faucet. He showed me how to check the oil, transmission, brake, and power steering fluids in my car, how to change the oil, and how to replace the air filters and wiper blades. He showed me how to properly use all the tools in the tool box he gave me when I moved into my first apartment by myself. He helped me with my math homework. I never felt like my dad ever treated me “like a girl.” He raised me to be a capable person.
One of the things I’ve found most impressive about my dad is the fact that he changed careers at the age of 40, which was hard enough, but made more difficult by my untimely arrival in 1984. He made a drastic shift from medical microbiology to accounting, which involved an entirely new skill set. Luckily, my dad is an avid student of the world– he never stops learning new things, cultivating an interest in American history, medical advancements, the economy, local flora and fauna, the environment, and classic film, among other topics. The bookshelves of my parents’ house are filled with nonfiction books on all subjects under the sun and he follows current events religiously. I consider my dad the reigning opinion on all things financial and political. I hope to one day be as well-informed as he is, though I suspect that would require me to spend much less time browsing Buzzfeed and Facebook.
For all of the knowledge he’s shared with me, I find, to my shame that I know very little about his personal history aside from rote facts, like where he was born, who his siblings are, what colleges he’s been to and the fact that he was drafted and served in the military. I would love to know more. I long to hear about more of his specific childhood and teenage experiences and how he felt. What his college experiences were like and how he made friends. I find that most of what I wish I knew have something to do with emotion and lived experiences, and it may not be possible for me to learn as much as I would like to. My dad keeps his cards close to his chest sometimes. Generally, I don’t mind this, since I tend to do the same thing, with the notable exception being this blog, where I put anything and everything out on the internet for the world to see.
I didn’t change my last name when I got married, and that’s partially because it’s just such an awesome last name, I couldn’t let it go. But another reason is because of the unquantifiable gifts that my dad has given me. The best way I know of to repay or pay forward those gifts is to strive to do an amazing job every day at whatever my job is and put that name all over my work. Everyone who sees it should know the value of the person who gave it to me and taught me so much of what I know.