Diapers and Dragons

Sunday, June 21, 2009

For My Father, Who Is Far Away

I get warm fuzzies when I think about my daddy. That's who he is to me: My Daddy. As much as I love my mother, as much as we connect in way that is both friendship and mother/daughter, I will always be a Daddy's Girl.

I know he wishes he'd been more patient when we were children. I understand that: I struggle with that same impatience with my own children. I have his temper, you see, quick to flame and quick to fade into guilt and regret. I know we knew there were times to avoid Daddy, such as the middle of the night or first thing in the morning. If we woke up with a problem, we went to Mom's side of the bed--she was less likely to growl. And if we really messed up? The fear of our Father's hand when he got home from work was a potent one. Even stubborn brat me couldn't laugh when he gave me a swat or two on the bottom (which I did when Mom did it, foolish me). And I know he was the yeller while my mother was the ridiculously patient one.

I don't really remember all that, though. Not in that deep down way that sticks with you through the ages. What I remember is that I always knew I could trust my daddy. He would never let me down. He would love me to pieces even when I messed up the most (which I did, a lot) and give me hugs and cuddles when I needed them the most (which I did, plenty). He would make us laugh and groan with his silly jokes and awful puns. He would make delicious meals for us when he was in the mood or Mom was busy studying. He would race the car just right on the down slope of a hill to give us butterflies in our tummies and make us giggle. He would let us rub his belly and the top of his head and tease him about his expanding waistline and diminishing hairline (he said it was all Our Fault anyway). He would let us wrap him around our fingers and reveal him for who he really was: a big rumbly teddy bear with a heart of gold.

Children trust him instinctively. It's a rare child who doesn't take one look at him and know that this is a person he or she can love. It generally is only a matter of minutes before they're playing with him or sitting on his lap. I've seen children who have never met him before walk straight to him and open their arms to be picked up. My mother says he's always been like that.

My children adore him. Smiles beam like sunshine from their faces just at their first glimpse of him. My Widget will actually take medicine from him without having to be held down like a cat. DramaBoy will demand a game of Polar Bear (tag, with Grandpa as the PB chasing or being chased by the Small Children), something he doesn't ask anyone else to play--because Grandpa is the only one who will play it properly and cheerfully. They both love to cuddle him. They'll go to sleep almost like angels if Grandpa is the one who puts them to bed.

As you can imagine, I'm missing that particular talent a great deal these days.

I am, in general, missing my Daddy a great deal these days. I know he's where he's supposed to be, and I believe in what he's doing, but I feel the sacrifice more keenly than ever for it being a more willing one this time.

I've always been able to crawl in my Daddy's lap, even though I'm technically far too old for it now. He would always hold me. He never was a man to fear letting his tenderness show.

I miss him. I miss his lap.

I love you, Daddy. Happy Father's Day.

6 bits of love:

Monica said...

Lovely tribute to you dad. Where is he?

Heidi said...

*hugs*

I'm really loving being so close to my dad these days. Watching Ciaran with him (even when it hurts so keenly because it feels like rejection of ME, silly though I know that is), I rejoice in how much my little boy adores his grandfather with every fiber of his being.

I remember always feeling comfortable with your dad - I'm sorry you're so far away from him right now!

Kathleen said...

Beautiful post, TeacherMommy! And so encouraging to hear that you don't remember the short temper but rather all the good stuff. There's hope for my kids! :)

Daddy said...

In life I wonder if it would be great to be able to go back in time and do a “mulligan” or “do-over” with the maturity that I now have! I look at how I react to your little ones, whom I miss terribly, and wonder at all the patience that there is now, but wasn’t so much back when you were young – and pre-teen – and teen – and . . .

Those difficult experiences did help me grow up, though. But I would never, ever, ever want to do you over again. I love you for you were, are, and going to be! You were my first born, a special person in every way. Your words for Father’s day filled my heart and my eyes. Thank you! I love you!

And it is true that the grey hair and lack of it did not really start until you were 13. Then the added stress of another daughter and then a son . . . But it is true too, that I don’t really remember the hard times as much as I do:

- the cheerful 2-year old singing “Oh dear what could the matter be, Johnny, Johnny” with all the expression of an “Idol” contestant, and then telling daddy to “stop singing” when I would join in.
- the little girl hopping around excited about her little brother doing sommersaults
- the special dinner the two of us had when you reached double digits (10)
- your arranging play time with sister and cousins and doing your share of the preaching when you played “church”
- my playing like a piano the exposed toes of your, your sister, and your cousins feet draped over grandma’s sofa
- the cuddles
- the hurts
- the joys of my little girl

You always will be that, you know! I miss you! I love you!
Daddy

LoriM said...

Wahhhh! This is so sweet - the post and your dad's response.

mom said...

I saw Daddy's response to your post when he came to breakfast, and could hardly wait to find a moment to read it. I've now forwarded it to a friend who knows him too, and will relate to your description. You nailed it! And as you know, he loves you with his whole heart too. And this essay was the perfect, never-to-be-forgotten gift for him. It was the greatest hug he could get (next to having you right here, or him being right next to you there . . .)

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