And Other Attributes of a Great Dad
For many years, this was a weird holiday for me. I felt compelled to celebrate with my mom, who did the work of my dad, albeit dressed in flowery housecoats and wearing soft perfume. I also felt the need to thank and recognize the men in my life who filled in the gaps where a well-intentioned mom really couldn't. I was as warm as I could be with this conglomerate of men - uncles, friends, neighbors - the village that Hillary was talking about - who raised me. But the truth was they were busy with their 'real' families on this day and I was an add-on. The older I got - although it was always true - this day made me so uncomfortable, at odds with my own self, because I really didn't want to celebrate with my mom and my uncles and friends' husbands. I wanted a dad. And I didn't have one of those.
So in my young life, I began to design the ideal dad, who would some day appear in my life and make everything good again. This man was tall and strong and had calloused hands because he worked hard to take care of me and my mom. He smelled faintly of soap but most often he was sporting eau de motor oil and bore the scent of work and a long day. He had a bright smile which was quick to flash around me - I was the light of his life. My dad was smart, but quiet about it - he didn't need to show off his intellect, it was just understood. He was intuitive and warm and a little clumsy in his affection because he had to trip over his manliness to get to his softer side. He was charming and funny and had a way of drawing a crowd even when he didn't mean to. He kept us comfortable and safe and even if we didn't have the best of everything it felt like it because he made us feel so grateful to be together that everything else was cake. My dad was a little nuts, he'd have to be to get along with me, but it was a funny sort of nutty and we laughed together about our quirks and oddities. Sometimes he was hard, mad and unreasonable, but that just made him human and real and all the more mine - I can be a little unreasonable too! Above all my dad loved me, loved me, loved me and never left me. Never would. Couldn't live without me anymore than I could without him. He was constant and good and sincere and I could count on him.
I waited for this dad for many, many years and - oddly - never lost hope.
On August 5 1995 I married the man of my dreams.
And on April 28, 1998 (and again on August 17 2000) he became the dad of my dreams. And I wouldn't have it any other way.