In honor of Father’s Day, I thought I’d share a story about my father with you all. Sure, I’ve made a Top 10 List of Things My Dad Has Done To Freak Me Out, I’ve shared about our trips to the zoo where we never actually went inside the zoo, I’ve noted the time he buried me in a snowbank and left me, and about his ongoing war with rodent control, but those stories have left most of you wondering how I managed to survive in a such a household with a crazy, forgetful, prank-pulling, window banging old man? Easy, it’s cause I knew he loved me.
My dad, for all his flaws, the primary of which is his constant failure to remember my name, loves me. Growing up, my dad was magical, almost like Santa Clause really, which meant, you had to stay up late in order to catch him. He worked 18 hour days cooking and managing our family restaurant, so on rare occasions when I was allowed to stay up til Dad came home, it’s only natural I had to pounce and wrestle with him to prove he was real! My brother and I would let his exhausted body climb into bed and pull the covers up, then ransack his room with flashlights and wrestling cries, “Ash and Smash! Ash and Smash!” until he cried “Uncle!” in surrender.
School mornings in our house began with light switches flashing and mom hollering up the steps for us to get up. She’d make us breakfast, and Dad would drive us to school. As he’d pull over the car and we got out with our eyes rolling, too cool for station wagons, he would always say, “I love you kids.”
After school plays or report cards came in, Dad would be so proud, “You are so smart. How did you get to be so smart?”
When my dad later sold the restaurant and opened up a smaller cake shop, we kids would occasionally help out washing dishes, delivering cakes, spell checking his frosting messages. He always listened, no matter how much we blathered on, which believe me I do a lot (it’s genetic). He always acted so impressed, so proud, and always told us he loved us.
Every phone call, every get together, it’s a hug and a kiss, and “I love you, Jess.” One of my favorite stories my dad shared with me is about his visits with my grandpa (my mom’s father) in the assisted living home near his final days. My grandpa lived with us for a few months during his transition of declining health and changed lifestyle. I’ll admit it was difficult at times, with an 80-something man whose only interests are baseball and westerns, it wasn’t always easy to find things to talk about, and he came from a different generation of hard farm work. He didn’t often say please, or thank you, let alone ‘I love you.’ And then there’s my mother, who taught us manners before we could walk!
My dad would make special trips to the assisted living center, and take my grandpa on drives while he delivered cakes, spend time talking, and before he left he’d always say, “I love you, Bill.” For months, my grandpa never said it back. But one day, my dad and I were driving through town and he told me how he’d been telling grandpa he loved him each day, and my grandpa finally said it back, “I love you too, Jerr’.”
I think that story explains who my father is as a human being. He is a loving, grateful, and kind-hearted man, who occasionally forgets the names of his children, but it’s ok. We know he loves us, whoever we are.
Tell me why your father, or father figure, is special to you.