It’s nearly Father’s Day, and I acknowledge the ache of missing him. I acknowledge the gratitude I have for my memories: the sound of his laugh popping into my mind at unexpected moments. The words and phrases that entertained, infuriated, taught and shaped me into this ever-changing lump of clay that will always be his daughter.
Get around this guy! He’s loafing in the left lane.
On the golf course:
Keep your head down. Don’t try to kill it.
On any professional athlete who showed poor sportsmanship:
He’s a bum.
When I playfully squeezed his bicep:
Be careful. You’ll hurt your hand.
Teaching me to drive a stick shift:
Again. Try it again.
At the end of any long list of questions:
Want a punch in the eye?
When pushed to the limit of his patience:
On any ex/bad boss/person:
he’s a bum. (recurring theme)
You better [whatever I was supposed to be doing] or I’m gonna land all over you!
After my haircut:
Your face is hanging out.
Somehow their writers have missed the mark, along with all the other clever wordsmiths who’ve failed to deliver the sort of message my father needs to receive—the one that perhaps all fathers need to receive. So thank you, Dad, for so many things…
…for teaching me how to throw a fastball, wield a mean golf club and sink a jump shot on command…for being my biggest advocate (even still) and for believing in me even before I believed in myself.
…for being oh-so-generous with your time…for listening intently to my wishes and worries…for consideringme a worthy companion as we jogged over the back roads of town, watched doubleheaders into the wee hours and sat in scratchy lawn chairs together, completely mesmerized by the thunderstorms that rolled across the skies in the midst of July’s unbearable heat, summer after endless summer.
…for letting me date boys with messy hair and muscle cars…for traipsing around the kitchen in your underwear late at night, when said boys needed reminding that it was time to go home (an infinitely mortifying experience then, but absolutely hilarious now)…for walking me down the aisle—twice—and never once saying I told you so.
…for tolerating my teenage years (Oy!), for trusting me with your beloved cars even though the voices inside your head must have screamed, “Noooo!” and for resisting the overwhelming desire to share with my High School Yearbook Committee that hideous photo of me with the mumps. For that alone, I love you dearly.
…for navigating so many road trips—to distant airports, to a good number of college campuses I considered calling home, to my very first job interview in the city. Never mind that we got horribly lost in the process; but getting a glimpse of the White House at rush hour surely was grand.
…for inspiring me to be a responsible individual, to work hard and to strive to do good in this world…for illustrating the power of forgiveness, the refuge of one’s mosque and the necessary nature of grieving our losses…for reminding me that things usually work out in the end—even when they look entirely hopeless at the start.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad and all the dads still giving advice and tossing out one-liners.