I’m not sure I’ve ever devoted significant space to my dad here. I’ve written about my mom, mostly about our many conflicts, but my dad hovers in the background. He’s been a source of strength for me throughout my life, and has been a significant help to Geeky Boy. He calls or texts him on a regular basis, basically to remind him that there are people that love him. I’m not sure too many dads would do that. So here are some things he’s taught me.
- I can be anything I want to be. Way back when I was a kid, I said something about not being able to be a football player because I was a girl. My dad insisted that I could. And while I definitely could not be a football player because I’m a tiny person, but I took the lesson that I shouldn’t let other people’s arbitrary ideas of what girls could be get in my way.
- Keep the lines of communication open, even if you have to go to extremes to do so. When my parents separated, I was really pissed off at my dad (he initiated the separation), so I quit talking to him. After a few months of my refusing to answer his phone calls, he showed up on my doorstep, having flown from across the state to see me. I couldn’t not talk to him, and he patched up the relationship.
- You can recover from horrible things, and come out not just okay, but better. My dad lost his daughter, got divorced, and then lost his second wife. He’s seen a lot of tragedy and pain. And yet, he focuses on the good. He remarried, knowing that having a companion in life was important to him. Through many of these tragedies, he’s learned something about himself and taken those lessons to heart.
- Change is not just okay; sometimes it’s necessary. My parents are polar opposites in this regard. My mother hates change of all kinds, even small ones. She doesn’t redecorate her house. She doesn’t like visiting new places or restaurants. My dad, on the other hand, has made changes big and small. Getting divorced was a big one, but he’s lived in several different places, changing houses many times over the last ten years. He’s been on many interesting vacations: to Russia, to New Zealand, to Alaska. He relishes new experiences. I’ve either inherited or learned that from him though I also appreciate (somewhat like my mother) things remaining the same. Tradition can be a good thing.
- Relationships with family are the most important ones you have. When I was younger, we rarely saw my dad’s family. That was because my dad didn’t really value those relationships and because my mother didn’t get along with them. He now makes a point of talking to his sisters regularly, and arranged a kind of mini reunion for them and all the cousins. He values his new family relationships as well. Even when he may not understand the family, he still feels these relationships are important. Family the foundation we all stand on. They’re our safety net. In the best case, they accept us for who we are.
- Life is short; don’t waste your time. My dad doesn’t spend much time getting his panties in a wad about stupid stuff.
- How to be a grown up. I find myself using my dad as a model whenever I need to do something difficult. My dad always behaved like a grownup, someone who took things seriously, respected others’ opinions, and wasn’t afraid to say difficult things.
I am still learning from my dad. Thanks, Dad, for just being you.