Thursday, February 7, 2019

A Daughter Of A Good Man

My father will be turning 91 this week. I will be taking every opportunity I can to let him know he is celebrated, appreciated and loved by me. My earliest memories of him are being held in his arms or wrapping mine around his leg. His earliest memory of me is at the hospital where I was born, when he learned I was a healthy baby girl before my mother did. She was still in a twilight induced sleep due to some complications, so I wonder if he got to hold me first. I know that while my parents were at the hospital our house was burglarized (along with all the families in the maternity ward at the time), and the robber stole some jewelry. As awful as that was, I hope my arrival provided a happy distraction.

My father was already a two time parent by the time I came around, an ol' pro. Knowing from my own experience with my second child, there is a relaxed confidence that comes from parenting experience. He was close to 50 when I was born and jumped right back in to fatherhood. When I came home from school, he gave me a snack and was ready to help me with homework. We both had a sweet tooth, so when we shared treats it would be our secret from my health nut mom. When I became serious about figure skating, it was he who drove me all over the place to practice.  The age difference between my siblings and myself allowed for more one-on-one time with my parents.

Despite both my folks having been around the block as parents, I wasn't the easiest kid. I suffered from anxiety and often this was quite difficult for all of us involved. There was a lot of "please come pick me" calls, some therapy and probably quite a bit of money loss from quitting several camps, soccer and after school programs.  In those times none of us knew a solution to my anxiety, but I could always count on my parents' efforts to help me find support. I also had a medical scare when I was nine. My doctor found a bump on my neck and had my dad sit down in his office to talk to him. He told me wait while he did, but I could see my dad sitting in a chair next to the Doctor's desk and he was crying. It was the first time I saw my father cry and it was because he was scared I was sick. It turned out I had an extra cervical rib, but it took a pretty traumatic few days to figure it out, and while we waited everyone told my parents that they suspected I had Leukemia. We were all so relieved to hear I had a spare rib instead.

As a teenager, I didn't get much easier. I was passionate about skating, but also just passionate, so there was a lot of arguing about school, skating, boys, and I truly thought I knew what was best for myself. Sometimes I was right, mostly I wasn't. Through it all though my father was present. Whether or not I liked his ideas, he had them and was there to let me know. Having him as such an involved father is something I am grateful for.

Today I watch my husband with my daughter and I see the close relationship that they have. It makes me happy to see the bond that they are building.  There are times when I see him tickling her back while talking to her before bed and I smile. There is a level of safety and comfort that you feel when you are in the arms of your father. I see my daughter crawl into my husband's arms and all is right in the world in that moment.   I remember when I was a little girl, at night when I couldn't sleep, my father would tickle my back and tell me stories. He made up stories and characters that in my mind were perfect. I insisted as a child that he could write a book. In my eyes if I needed something from the moon, my father had the power to get there. I remember one night I'd been sick and throwing up. I was so upset about throwing up and begged him to help me to stop. He said he was going to run to the store and when he came back he gave me medicine that stopped the vomiting immediately.  My dad tried every which way to do right by his kids and it shows. Today, he still makes sure we are all okay and checks in regularly. If we are in the same city visiting each other, he will always make sure we're all well fed. He is true definition of a mensch.

My kids know the kind of man their grandfather is. They know he has a sense of humor and sings to them in a hilariously high pitched voice causing them to giggle uncontrollably. They know if there's something about science or history that we don't understand, all we need to do is call grandpa because he has all the answers. They also know that he loves us all, that he is a good man, and that we love him right back. Happy Birthday Daddy!

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