Thanks Dad for all of the lessons that you have taught me. I love you deeply.
Happy Father's Day!
My dad is a man of few words.
One time, while my father was at work, my mother decided to knock down the wall between the living room and family room in our house. When my mom greeted him in the driveway after work, his face showed that he knew that something was definitely up. But when he entered the foyer and viewed the cement sub-floor where the the wall once was, he just shook his head, turned to my mom, and said, "Well, you finally did it!"
That's it! No yelling, no screaming, just . . . well . . . an explanation.
Time and again it was like that with my dad.
When I would bring home a new boyfriend to meet my parents, my dad would pull a stone face. He rightly earned a notorious reputation among the teenage boys in my class. One time I overheard a friend say to one of my prospective suitors, "He doesn't talk. It's eerie. He just stares." I can't remember if I actually made it to a date with that scared, scared boy. I don't think so though. I thought that my dad was just being difficult on purpose to intimidate those boys, and it drove me crazy that I was the one with the scary dad.
Later, at twenty-two when I faced my first real life changing moment, I felt so very alone. But when my dad took me in his arms, his quiet demeanor wasn't so annoying anymore. My perspective had vastly changed from my teenage self, and I realized that my dad's quietness was a source of his strength and at that point in my life, a source of my strength too. I appreciated that he didn't require me to hash out details of my situation or relive ugly moments. He just sat with me and let me be. It reminded me of how when I was a little girl and my mom had to work evenings to help support the family, my dad would tuck in my sister and me. And, very often, sis and I were able to twist his arm and convince him to let us lay with him until we fell asleep. Just his quiet presence made me feel safe and I would quickly relent to my sleep. And, as a new adult with some serious adult problems, I felt that same calm resolution from my dad. He was my comfort, and my protector in one.
Later, after I had my babies, I loved when my dad would visit. He would take my colicky babies and walk and walk and walk. Never tiring or complaining. Just quietly bouncing those cranky babies until they gave up and realized that their Pap Pap was ever vigilant, ever watchful, and quietly loving them to a sound sleep. As the kiddies grew, I would watch my dad tickle the kiddies with his moustache or watch the them play babies with him on the living room floor. Dad always, always participated and was eager to be in on the action, even if he didn't volunteer much conversation. The kiddies recognized that although he may not have said much, he was always listening and attentive. He believed in their fairies and bogeymen and he was silently respectful of their ideas. And, in kid world, that was and is really all that counts. They loved that Pap Pap played with them, and they saved special kisses and hugs to plant all over him to show their appreciation.
Dad always basks in that kind of love.
And, although I am probably a bit too big to climb up in his lap anymore, I know too that my dad will always be my best listener and teacher.
And the lesson that I have learned?
To listen with my heart, of course.