All week I have been dreading this Friday. June 15th my father lost his battle to cancer 17 years ago. Kind of makes Father’s Day suck for me. He was and will always be my hero and the measure of a man.
Growing up my dad was big and scary – a quiet force to be reckoned with and someone you did not want to cross. Standing maybe five foot eight he was bigger than life to me – and any of my high school dates. But I was always a daddy’s girl. When I was a teenager we had a clearly defined moment of understanding and he began to see me as an adult and I began to see him as a person.
My dad taught me by not giving me lessons. It was the things he would say, the way he conducted himself, the observations he made and shared, how he treated others, the little quips we would have back and forth, as well as the little competitions we used to have that gave me invaluable knowledge.
I was so excited when I gave birth to a boy because I knew how lucky he was to have my dad as his Grampa. I was a tomboy and I was looking forward of spending time with my son and my dad fishing, camping, having my dad teach my son about cars – all the things I did with my dad where I learned the most.
Except I didn’t get the car thing, he decided not to teach me about cars when I was in junior high and asked him to show me how to hot-wire a car. He felt it best that I know as little about cars as possible after that moment.
My dad used to tell me that when people talked about loosing their parents he never said much because he got jipped – his word. He lost his parents when he was young; in his thirties, he was 35 when his own father died. He felt cheated by loosing his parents so early.
He one upped me – I was only 25 when I lost my father, and my son wasn’t even three.
Not only did I get jipped but my son lost out on a lifetime of a wonderful man. I promised my dad on the day he died that I would never let my son forget him. My dad was the head diesel mechanic for CCX so every time we see a CCX truck we call it a “Papa Teepe Truck”. I often tell stories of my dad or of things he did that I learned from to my son. I keep him with us.
I think there is a part of me that no matter who I meet and get to know I always have the thought of what my dad would think of them and if he would approve. I told you, I was a daddy’s girl. I valued his opinion; he was my protector, guardian, hero, butt-kicker and BS-meter.
I was fortunate to have the time that I did with my dad and I often flash back to small things growing up and get the significance or meaning now that I am an adult. He still continues to teach me.
After my dad was diagnosed we talked once and he was upset that he wouldn’t be around to be there for me as I continued to grow up. After he passed no one ever said, “Ok, I’m going to step up now for you” but I have wonderful friends and relatives that have taken small pieces that I have lost and try to fill the gap a little without ever trying to fill his shoes. I am grateful for that.
My dad wasn’t a perfect man. He didn’t try to be nor did he apologize for it. He told me his job was to raise his kids and he took his job seriously. As a daddy’s girl I know I did not make it easy on him and there were many times he worried about things known and unknown. He was strict, his lines were clear, the punishment swift, did not accept excuses, dishonesty or being incomplete.
As a parent I know how hard this job is and just in 25 short years he set the bar as a father and a man. I know the saying that women want to marry a man like their father and men want to marry a woman like their mother – but I think that is only true if you do your job right as a parent.
My dad taught me what a real man was – al the qualities to respect, honor, value and appreciate he held, taught and lived. When he was wrong he apologized; if he believed in something he didn’t. He didn’t back down from any fight in his life – as a kid, a young man, a man or a father. I am proud that I get my stubbornness, bluntness, independence and sense of honor and family from my father – it is what he taught me by how he lived.
As a father are you teaching your children these things? Not in your words, but in your actions? If not then you are jipping your children.
There is nothing like the void of a death of a parent. Once they pass it is like you join some secret club that no one can explain but you only get once you become a member. Non-members try, but they just don’t understand. It is a horrible club to be in; I really hate being a member.
I was in my forties when my mom remarried so it was weird for me to say “step-dad”. It was not like he inherited a forty-something daughter – his wife just happened to have a grown kid. He didn’t have to try to get to know me or my family or even be a part of it.
Lucky for me he did.
Over the past few years I have gotten to know him and form my own kind of relationship. Not a father-daughter and not a friendship but some combined kaleidoscope of the two. If I am frustrated, he listens. He makes me laugh. If something breaks the next thing I know he is at my house ready to fix it without being asked or taking a thank you. He has been there silently supportive during some really difficult times and outwardly encouraging during the good.
He has never tried to be my dad or take my dad’s place; yet he has been there and continues to do so as a father to his children, a grandfather and a husband for my mom; and just Jim to me.
I was fortunate to be a grown up when Jim came into our lives because I can understand that he is a part of our family without taking my dad’s place. There is no comparison nor expectations. This weekend I will be wishing many a happy father’s day: my son’s father, Jim, my friends and my dad.
I could go on about how people are important and make the time, don’t let it just be a day that you show your appreciation and tell your dad or dad figure that you love him – but I don’t know that it needs to be said. Besides, I get longwinded enough so I will just say don’t jip yourself by missing out.
I can’t get any time back with my dad and this weekend, against his wishes and taking everything I have, I will visit his gravesite. Before I do I’ll be going to see my step-dad because he arranged with a mechanic to take a look at my car because I made a joke about it was acting up. That’s something my dad would have done, and I think he would be very happy that I have someone there making sure his girl is taken care of.
Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.