Monday, June 20, 2011

A Day Late for Dad

Happy belated Father's Day. Does that sort of thing work?

Anyway, I was sort of out of commish last week. I kept busy all week with work, and with talking to Shauni all day, and trying to be good lil' girl per usual. I have been trying to write three times a week, but let's face it: When you put those kinds of restrictions on a body, a body is bound to rebel.

So Dad's day was yesterday. Woo! I am actually lucky enough to have three dads—a dad, a step dad and a father-in-law. Isn't that lovely? David and I spent the afternoon with my papa, and the evening with my step dad (and mom and siblings).The only thing that could have made the day better is if I could have seen my father-in-law yesterday, but don't even get me started on the woes of geography.

A day late, many dollars (for my dream life) short, I am here about my dear old daddy-o.

Here we are. As you can see, no matter the weather, chub cheeks, hair or not, silliness or serious, we are quite a pair.

My papa is a good man. He is the hardest worker I have ever known. He is honest (to a fault). He is funny most often in a dry way, but sometimes in the traditional corny way. He is a fabulous cook. He is a problem solver. He shaves his head. Given the right tools, he can fix an automotive part—better yet any part—that needs repair. He is a great listener. He has a big fish tank. His kitchen is rooster themed. He has good taste in clothing. He has a sweet tooth. He has about 47 pairs of brown, leather work boots. Unlike Snooki, his natural skin tone actually is: tan. His hands are rough like sandpaper. He owns a motorcycle but he never rides it. He writes in all caps, all the time.

Sometimes I catch myself sitting alone listing these facts and others about my father. Repeating little things that he does or says, or the way he pokes his head out from the kitchen, one eye and one ear on what's happening on television while he cooks dinner. I tell myself that no matter how few and far between our visits are, I know this man. I know my father the way anyone else knows theirs. I back up this statement with the aforementioned facts. Bald head, problem solver, fish tank. I know him, he is mine.

I don't know if my father knows those same things about me. Sometimes it keeps me up at night, but mostly I just let the thought bounce back in forth in my head until it develops into a rhythm I am comfortable with, a beat, an everlasting curiosity that I can stomach.

My father didn't want six children. I've never had the guts to ask him if he even wanted one, but regardless, he wound up with six. We are an impressive bunch—tall, outspoken, comical, artistic, creative, thrifty, compassionate, adventurous, dependable, talented, soulful, opinionated. He raised us up from infancy just the same. He worked outside all day in the sun, he brought home "the bacon," he sat through our talent shows, he drew us pictures of The Little Mermaid, he bought ice cream and made dinner, he took us on Saturday-morning rides to town, to the county dump. He was a good father. Gentle with us, considerate of us. His life path, his decisions were shaped around the needs of our family. Weeknights spent under the hood of our family mini-van.

He raised us up, and we arrived here. Somewhere. Some place between adolescence and adulthood, between small steps and big. Age 14 and age 30. Blurred lines that intersect in places and spread far from one another, like the opposite ends of a wide and broken up mountain, in others. He never left us; but there are times he departs from us. Moves away from the places that we are and holes up in a cave. Withdraws into the father, the man, the machine that he is, and remains there for a while. To catch his breath, or perhaps to imagine a different life for himself altogether. In those moments, it can be so hard to understand, so hard to accept the feeling of being skipped over, passed by.

But when he returns to us, when we are back together, little has changed. It is still small, soft daughter with eyes upturned to his bold, broad frame. His eyes meet mine, listening, understanding, accepting. Not trying to change me. Just taking it all in. You're all right. I am always trying to prove myself, make him proud. He smiles softly, leaning back into the kitchen counter. I am. I trust his words, what he is willing to give. There is always so much he wants to say. We could stand here for hours, only pausing to collapse into chairs at his round wooden table. He doesn't hold back or shield his disappointment and frustration at the sum of his days, at the way things turned out. And while they sting at first, I let them sink it and I reciprocate the understanding. You're all right.

It will never be the way it is be with other people. The daddy-daughter, daddy-son bond, a winning combination, the blue ribbon. And while it would be so easy to say, he just doesn't operate that way, maybe it is me, too. We are who we are. Stubborn, independent, self-conscious, sensitive, proud. The way we are. The way it is. But these small handfuls of moments we share are enough. The bond reaffirmed, sustained until next time.

And until then, the faith remains. I carry you with me, too.

1 comment:

Deforest Bouve said...

Oh my amazing girl...what a great writing...and what fantazmagorical chemistry we must've churned up that night in the wee brown house in Beverly by the Sea...and by candlelight no less under a canopy with intention and passion
to create with God's divine intervention( of course) ...VOUS!!! Our one totally agreed upon endeavor!
je t'aime beaucoup!