On the eve of Fathers Day, I am reminiscing and recalling my own dad, whom I always called Daddy. Even as an adult, I struggled to call him Dad, but only Daddy could pass my lips. I remember trying to figure out what was the big deal, but when it came down to the actual word, it could only be Daddy. I was born in the early 50′s when family life and parental roles were very different from today. My dad’s job was to provide for his family and he did that. However, he only provided financially, not emotionally. Again, I now know this was a result of the times.
As a child, my brother and I were very involved in school music and always had concerts. I do not remember my dad coming to a single concert. Didn’t think anything of it at the time, but as I became an adult and saw my male contemporaries start their families and be so involved with their kids, I kind of resented his absence. But I was reminded that it was the times.
Again, dad was of the old school and had definite thoughts on what girls were suppose to do. When I wanted to go to vet school, I was told “girls don’t do that.” Stubborn me decided to put myself through college and thus I could study what I wanted: biology.
While in college, I came home one day dressed in bib overalls. My dad had a fit and stated “no daughter of mine is going to wear those.” And since I wasn’t about to change my clothes, we became estranged. Later on I learned that bib overalls meant poverty and uneducated to my dad and that was why he didn’t like them. He was from a little town in Arkansas and tried hard to provide for his family so they could stay out of bib overalls. Unfortunately, he didn’t tell me this and to him, my clothing was a slap in the face.
I graduated from college with a BS in biology, but I chose not to walk at graduation. I don’t remember any “congrats” or anything from my dad. I continued with graduate school and earned a MS in biology. Again, I chose not to walk at graduation. And again, I don’t remember any comment from my dad. I accept partial responsibility for this because we just weren’t close and I stayed away due to what I perceived as unacceptance.
After many years of living out-of-state, I ended up back in my home town. My dad had a heart attack and open heart surgery. I did not visit him in the hospital, not once. Actually, I don’t remember much of that time. Then my mother died unexpectedly. My dad was completely lost.
I was now living in my own house, with a good job, and doing well. I grew up, my dad changed (I think he came eye-to-eye with his mortality), and our relationship changed too. For one thing, I think my dad realized that he missed out on a lot of stuff and it was the first time I heard that he was proud of me. He may have said it before, but I finally heard it. I was the first person in his family to get a college degree; dad had not even finished high school. And I was living my life, and doing it under my terms.
After 30 years of little interaction, my daddy was in my life! We often went out to dinner and he would stop by to play handyman at my house. He introduced me to the very first home computer, an Apple (yes, my dad was a computer geek in the early 80′s). And with his urging, I started an old (and still continuing) family tradition of making Bailey’s Irish Cream for Xmas.
My daddy died less than 2 years after my mom died. It just wasn’t enough time to finally get to know him, though I think he knew me. He wasn’t alive to see me get married (or divorced), and he wasn’t alive to meet his special granddaughter (my Daughter).
So on the eve of Father’s Day, I remember you Daddy, miss you and love you.