I am one of those people who was fortunate to have a dad who was present throughout my life. And by present, I mean that he has always been there for me on a daily basis. And by involved, I mean that he would absolutely not think twice about driving around town at 3am when I was in high school and missed my curfew (long story, don’t tell my kids).
But when I say he is present in my life, I also mean that he and I still have a continuous conversation on text that we can pick up at any time during the week and not miss a beat. He has made a point to have a relationship with people who matter to me, and loves his grandkids and son-in-law dearly.
He wasn’t the kind of dad who would come home after a long day of teaching and flop on the couch, even though he sure must have felt like it. I can still remember the excitement of my dad arriving home, because he was always ready with a funny, unlikely story or a cozy cuddle in front of the TV.
My dad put the time in and entertained my childish ideas. When my twelve-year-old friends said they’d be holding tryouts for a super-exclusive cheerleader squad, he spent hours in the backyard with me, perfecting my routine. I could not even do a cartwheel, which was part of the basic criteria, so he decided I’d learn how to do one. I still cannot do a cartwheel, and definitely shouldn’t nowadays, but boy, it wasn’t because he didn’t want it badly enough.
My dad never judged me, even though he tried very hard to help me become a kind, caring person. I can’t say I never let him down. I did. A few (more than a few) times. But I always knew that, no matter how badly I messed it up, he’d always stick around. And that his love for me wouldn’t change a bit.
One of the greatest things about my dad is that he has always been the puzzle piece that didn’t quite fit into the neat space called “dad”. When I was a kid he was weird, guys, but, like, a great kind of weird. He read us books from unconventional, funny people. He did unexpected things like start singing Happy Birthday in the middle of a crowded restaurant (it was never actually anybody’s birthday when he sang it). He dressed up for Halloween. He rode a unicycle. He juggled. He had a Smothers Brothers-esque routine he did with my uncle (another unique piece of the puzzle) at every family wedding.
Even now, he likes to dress up in his favorite masks (I forgot to mention his collection) and send us photos. He hides severed arm props around the house when we visit. Yeah, I have lived an entire lifetime thinking that no one could hold a candle to my dad. And who can blame me?
When I moved to Mexico and decided to stay, I knew it was hard for my dad. We have always been close, and it was obvious that this was going to make him sad. He wanted so many things for me; to be safe, to be close by, and to be happy. But how could I be anything other than his daughter, someone who didn’t always follow the regular rules in life? And how could his daughter be completely happy if she didn’t do a little singing in her own tune?
And so I have raised my children the way my dad raised me. When they want to try something new, no matter how silly it may seem, I will help them give it a try. When I come home from work, I try to be ready with a story and a cuddle. And when they tell me their dreams, their mistakes, their sorrows, I listen and try not to judge them.
And yeah, I tend to hover, worry and check up on them. They know I wouldn’t hesitate to jump in my car at 3am in order to find them, any day of the week.
My dad’s presence in my life has helped me become a caring parent. It has helped me become a person who follows her own path and listens to her own heart. And, lucky me, it’s given me one of the best friends I could ever have. Happy Father’s Day, dad.