This Father’s Day was the first time in a while that I really missed and wanted to be with my dad. He is still living, so I am blessed to be able to call him, and I did. But my relationship with my father has been strained for a while – since I was a teenager – and we are just now beginning to rebuild that bridge. The journey has been a long, hard, tear-filled road.
My father was in the military and often away on assignment, so I primarily lived with my mother, and at other times I lived with relatives – my paternal grandmother, aunt and uncle. When I turned 12 my father remarried, and when I was 14 I went to live with them. Our relationship shifted from a connection that consisted of us loving each other from a distance; him gifting me with wonderful toys and books and taking me places when we saw each other, to him making me rake leaves, wash dishes and sweep and mop the floor EVERY NIGHT, grounding me when I did wrong and telling me no. WTF Dad?! (I never actually said that – I wouldn’t be here to tell this story if I did). I resisted the shift, and of course as a parent, that just made him go harder.
We’re both very stubborn individuals and also both very sensitive. We have said and done things that have hurt one another, but as an adult, I realize that is sometimes the experience of two people who truly love each other and are trying to figure out not only who they are, but how to deal with their life-long connection and commitment to one another. I also had to realize that 1. parents are not perfect. they are flawed human beings doing their best with what they know, just like the rest of us, and 2. we were, and are, two completely different people, with different ways of seeing the world and wanting different things for our lives, and that’s okay. At the (beginning, middle and) end of the day, I love and am very thankful for my daddy. It’s a blessing that he’s still here to talk to when I need to, or just think about when I don’t feel like talking (we both hate talking on the phone).
So in honor of Father’s Day, and in honor of my Daddy, I made a list of the things I miss about him, and the lessons he’s taught me that I still hold dear to my heart:
- Laying on his chest and listening to him talk. He has this really deep voice, and I would lay my head on him and let the vibration soothe me. I did it several years back when we were in Jamaica and it took me right back to childhood.
- How he’ll call me out when I call him “Dad” instead of “Daddy” because he knows I’m either trying to assert myself as an adult or I’m in a pissy mood.
- Shaking my head at how horrible of a dancer he is, even though he thinks he’s the best.
- His Steve Harvey suits. He’s from Detroit. ‘Nuff said.
- His pranks, like when I was 6 and he put a fake roach on the toilet seat at 3am, or when I was 15 and woke up to a huge, Pennywise-looking porcelain clown. I didn’t appreciate the water gun assault just two hours after I’d gotten my hair done though.
- His sauteed mushrooms. They were the best thing ever. Hell, just the fact that he can and did cook. Even though he taught me how to cook, and I do pretty well for myself and the girls, I kind of expect my partner to take that on.
- His love and knowledge of music. He can listen to a song and instantly tell you what song it’s sampled from, who wrote it and when. He’s an amazing singer and once desired to be a record executive. He passed those genes on to me; music is my connection to the Divine and it’s because of him. It’s the best gift I could have ever been given.
- This will probably make him mad, but ummmm…..His porn. Yes (sorry Daddy)! He had a treasure chest trunk full of videos and magazines that I used to sneak into since I was about 7. Pornhub has nothing on my dad’s old collection. I wonder if he ever found out. That and his “educational” sex books like Joy of Sex and More Joy of Sex. Freak runs in the family yall.
- His insistence that I be a strong independent woman. Sometimes I get tired of the cape, and it’s hard to ask for help, but I’ve faced a lot of battles and knowing that I can handle my own shit because of what he taught me has made all the difference.
- His love for nature. We used to fish and go hiking when we lived in Arizona and California. I do it with my girls (and my dates) now. I love being outside and I’m not above climbing a fence, a tree or crossing a river.
- His thrill-seeking and insistence that I try new things. He forced me to get on a roller-coaster when I was 10 and though I cried the entire time I was in the line, I loved it. Because of him, I’ve learned that it’s okay to be afraid, as long as you push through it. It’s the only way to live your best life. He also never let me order chicken fingers and fries or a burger when we went to fancy restaurants; I had to try something different. Because of him, I can eat octopus or alligator and not think twice. Still wont fuck with no chitlins though. But I did try it, and that’s the point.
My dad is a square. He’s very much a military man (if you’re a military kid, you understand what that means). He wasn’t the most affectionate – kind of introverted and distant. He often just said the wrong damn thing to a young complicated black girl, and there were times when I swore I had to be adopted (and times when I wish someone would adopt me). But I know I was loved and cared for, and he did a great job with what and who he was given. I only turned out 3/4 crazy, and I’m certain 1/2 of that is because of my mom. I love my Daddy and can’t wait to see him next Thanksgiving.