Is it cultural, part of our society, or the time period, that it is somehow our tradition to let people in our lives go to the grave never having told them the positive impact they have had in your life? In a lot of ways, I have lived the nine lives of a cat. Most of my life has not been easy, but I have been truly fortunate to have some amazing people guide me through these obstacle courses. With suicide and plain old self-loathing running rampant around us; I do not want to forget to tell people how they have impacted who I am today.
I know it is very cliche “Daddy’s Girl”, but it’s true. My daddy was my childhood hero and confidante. My Dad was never the type to wait for me by the door with a shotgun. On Father’s Day, every year, I would spend an hour trying to find a card that was right for him. He never really liked golf, he is not a drinker, and power tools were not his thing. My father taught his two daughters the true definition of masculinity. A lesson I intended to look for in my husband and try to teach my two sons. Being a good man is all about working hard, putting your effort in, fierce loyalty and unconditional love.
As a little girl, my dad was quite often the comic relief I needed. He would lie on the floor and play Barbies with us. He never shied away from a challenge because it was not ‘a job for a dad’. I remember on multiple occasions my daddy rolling pink foam curlers in my hair the night before a special occasion. The next day Shirley Temple I was not, but it did not matter to me, because my dad me gave beautiful curls.
My dad is color blind (as are my two sons), so picking out his work outfit became our routine. Together we would lay out a matching tie, shirt, pants, and socks for the next day. It was during this process he told me that “real men wear pink”. Meaning, they can confidently wear a pink dress shirt. (My husband happened to be rocking a pink dress shirt the day met him.) For some reason hearing this from a man whose favorite color has been black was memorable to me.
I do not want to paint the picture of this man wrong. My dad was a big, tough guy, but in an approachable way that my friends did not seem to have with their fathers. At the same time, I always felt safe and protected around him.
It is ironic that my understanding of communication is because of a “Man.” Not only a man but a shy, introverted man. Who used humor and music to hide. This very same man taught me that communication goes way deeper than words. As a little girl, he read to me every night he could and made up stories (mostly fantasy-based) creating them in the dark on the spot as his daughters created pictures behind their closed eyelids.
Hands down the best way my dad taught me to communicate is through music. As long as I can remember my dad has been a DJ. You know; weddings, school dances, bar mitzvahs, etc. He taught me that almost every situation has a least one song with appropriate lyrics. The love for so many music genres is something I attribute to him. The nightly lullabies he used to sing, ranged from the ’50s up to the present. In addition, he never trashed whatever one-hit-wonder I was currently playing on repeat.
Since I am no longer able to drive and my dad’s driving is limited (eyesight is an issue) we have not been able to visit as much as I would like within the past few years. Phone conversations have also gotten more and more difficult. I would be able to tell him to simply clean out his ears, but once again FA strikes. My speech is so affected (halted and slurred) at this point I hardly make phone calls.
My daddy is now in his 60’s and uses a walker to get around. I am not sure of his true diagnosis, or if he is either. Type 2 diabetes is just one of the medical conditions that affect him on a daily basis. He also seems to be very “clumsy” like me and prone to falls (including stairs). I tend to lean towards him having the same genetic disease that has all but consumed me, his eldest daughter. Regardless of a medical diagnosis, he remains the man I compare all others to – my best man.