Hope all the fathers out there have a good day to enjoy themselves and spend time with their families. I’m going to call my dad a little later this evening, but in the fine tradition that I’ve taken to, I have once again not sent a card. I have one here, I just forgot to send it – as usual. Instead, I’ll do an “Ode to my Dad,” just like the one I did for my mom on Mother’s Day.
How to explain my dad to you? It’s not an easy project, for starters, because despite how he may appear, my dad is actually a pretty complicated guy. I love him dearly, and the older I get (it’s a hazard everyone goes through) the more I realize how much I’m like him. At first glance, I’m my mother’s child, there is no way to deny that. But I get so much of “me” from my dad that it’s a bit of a shock at first.
I can remember when I was a kid, watching PBS shows like Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Fawlty Towers, Benny Hill, Dr. Who, Blake’s 7, and in more recent years Red Dwarf. All very droll British shows, very unlike anything made in America. I guess that had quite an affect on me growing up, even though you couldn’t generally tell. It was something that I shared with my dad though. My brothers were never very interested in watching those shows, but I was, and I loved watching with my dad. We also watched nature shows and documentaries and home improvement shows (Yes, This Old House was one of them. No, I don’t really care for Bob Vila at all). I still love watching shows like that, or “real” reality shows like those on the Discovery Channel.
I’m not going to imply that watching TV was all I ever did with my dad, but it’s one of the more memorable parts of my growing up. Dad was never the easiest guy to deal with as a kid, and there was a time when I honestly hated him, and I used to dream of the day when I would be “out from under his thumb” and could tell him what I really thought of him. You know what? That day came and went, and by the time it arrived, it didn’t matter, because I was beyond the “hate” phase of my life, and could go back to just loving my dad. It’s not been smooth sailing, but I’m an adult now, and I realize and understand so much more about him than I ever did as a kid.
It took me years after I moved to away to get my dad to talk to me on the phone. I guess because in college, almost every time I called home, I asked for mom and talked to her. LOL! I even had to say once (in reply to my dad saying “Your mom’s not home, want me to have her call you?”) that it was alright if I talked to him. My dad and I can talk about the strangest things some times, and it’s then that I realize just how smart he is. He’s not a genius or anything, but my dad knows stuff, and he can definitely hold his own in any sort of conversation. I think his problem is that he doesn’t know (or think) that he can do that, so he tends to try to fade into the background. I used to be so much like him in high school that I consciously tried to be more outgoing (like my mom) when I went away to college. Nothing against my dad, but it was my chance to try to change, and I grabbed the chance.
The hardest thing to deal with in relation to my dad now is how he’s treating himself. Heart disease runs in his side of the family, and that is rough to deal with. My grandma (his mom) died from her third heart attack at 58 when I was 9 years old. My dad had his heart attack before he was 45 (I forget what age he was exactly). My older brother had a heart attack earlier this year at age 40. I’ll be 36 in three months, and unfortunately, I’ll be adding to the family rolls if I’m not careful. In that regard, despite my being built like my mom (all hips and ass), I’m definitely daddy’s little girl. Skinny is not a word used to describe my dad’s side of the family, ever.
Dad has plenty of health problems to worry about, but he doesn’t seem to want to do anything about them. At this point in his life, I’m not sure he could do anything in time. And that hurts so much. It’s like he’s killing himself slowly, and we all get to watch . My parents are talking about building a new house (depressing in it’s own right – they moved to their current house because my mom was pregnant with me) and I was talking to my dad about it. He said something that really hurt. I forget what I asked, but he said that he didn’t think he and my mom would still be around in 20 years. I was shocked, and asked him if he really thought he was going to die by the time he’s 80 (he’s 63 now) and his reply “I’m surprised I’ve lived this long.” That was a real eye-opener to me, and it hurt to hear just how fatalistic my dad can be.
I honestly wish he’d take care of himself better, but no one can force him to do that. None of that makes a difference in the fact that I love my dad very much, and I want him to know that. Happy Father’s Day, Dad!