Sunday, June 17, 2007

Dear Daddy

Dear Daddy,

Father's Days are not over and family is not a lie. Today's not about going over what I wish you'd done differently; it's about thanking you for what you did right. I cannot deny the influence your parental hand has had on who I've become, and I wouldn't want to.

You taught me the right way to do things like pay people back in full and on time, not to interrupt conversations, and to clean up my own messes. You taught me to turn the lights off when I leave a room and to pull electrical cords from the piece with the prongs, not the cord. You taught me to 'measure twice and then cut' and to always 'keep my eye on the ball,' on and off the field. You taught me to love (or at least appreciate) Bach, and Mozart, Shakespeare and Flannery O'Connor, the Beatles and the Beach Boys. You taught me what makes bluegrass bluegrass (it's the way the banjo is played) and why the "Ballad of Beautiful Words" I wrote in the sixth grade wasn't a ballad at all (It didn't tell a story). You exposed me to history and literature and the best music around. And even though I sat in the car and refused to get out at Harper's Ferry a long time ago, I still thank you for taking me. I understand its importance in our nation's history, and I plan to go back with my kids one day. You taught me how to write, how to speak in public, and how to get around in New York City.

Years ago you said that the beauty in life is really about the many little wonderful moments. Let's not ever forget those moments that we've shared--just the two of us and as a family. I remember the Ohio State basketball games you took me to and going to the first Star Wars movie with you. The weekly TV nights watching the "A-Team" and "Family Ties" and you doling out M&Ms to us three kids. Your insistence on sitting down as a family to eat meals (even when they were "FMs") and spending at least thirty minutes with us each day after school before we were allowed to go off and play with our friends. We had "Bad Fun" and Blockhead and the you-know-what card game that provided endless rounds of laughter and fun. In 37 years of birthdays and Christmases, you have hand-selected personal gifts for each of your children for each holiday, and I don't know of many fathers who do that. (I'm not saying we can actually use every gift you give us: I mean, let's be honest, the 30-hours-free AOL CDroms became obsolete in our household years ago; but it's the thought that counts). There was my Cheerwine softball team you helped coach where one year we didn't win a single game and the next year we were undefeated. (Actually, I'm not sure if the seasons went the other way around, but that's how I'd like to remember it happening). There was Community Band and then just us playing the piano and drums together to "New York, New York" in our living room. Of course there was New York--with Faye Chin, PJ Clarke's, Conan O'Brien, "Grease," and me spilling my pizza on the lady's suitcase in the restaurant at the Twin Towers. And then that local bar where we were watching an NBA basketball game and some local fan said that the shooter had about as much chance of making the shot as a stranger coming in and buying everyone in the bar a drink and then you saying, "Hey everyone, the next round's on me."

There's no one I'd rather watch a UK basketball game with or call on the phone from Franklin Street after Carolina beats Duke or wins a slot in the Final Four. I'll miss watching episodes of the Sopranos with you, but luckily there are plenty of Real World, Road Rules, and Gauntlet-type shows to gab about incessantly.

More than the important lessons in life, the things we've done together, the way you make me laugh--more important than all of that is the memory that I've shared with you before that goes all the way back to my earliest girlhood. And that is the way you explained to me (and Daniel and Kate too) that you loved us more than anything in the whole world, and that, in fact, there were not even words big enough to express how much you loved us but that you did and always would. And I've lived my whole life knowing that and feeling that. And that is what I'm the most thankful for. (Yes, I know I ended that sentence in a preposition). I'm the most thankful that you did the most important part of parenting the very best. Happy Father's Day.


1 comment:

Amy said...

Beautiful detail, and a moving tribute.