Father’s Day has become awkward. Emails and ads are shoved in our faces for gifts we have no reason to buy. This day means so much, yet since Pops departed this Earth, we’re unsure what to do. It feels like we should be laughing more, loving more, the way we always had. Instead, I’ve found it helps to celebrate the fatherly love of the other men I know. The boys I grew up with who have transformed into full-hearted fathers, (almost!) as good as mine.
When I see them with their children, especially their daughters, I don’t think about what I lost. I feel how lucky they are to be part of a beautiful relationship that I’ve also been lucky enough to know.
Daddies and daughters will always have a tender place in my heart because my daddy is the one who taught me what it means to love and be loved. I mean REALLY loved. He set the bar so high you’d think I’d only ever marry a gymnast.
I’ve been a daddy’s girl forever, but surprisingly my dad was gone a lot in my childhood, working as a traveling salesman. But I don’t remember his absence at all. I remember Friday afternoons waiting for the sound of the garage opening, indicating DADDY’S HOME!! I’d run downstairs and throw my arms around him in a big warm hug. This is how I learned of love’s enthusiasm.
When I was a teenager, my dad took me prom dress shopping. We spent the whole day driving to 3 malls in different states, and I tried on dress after disappointing dress, only to decide I liked the FIRST dress at the FIRST mall. We went back, and it was already sold! We ordered it online but I ended up NOT going to prom because I didn’t have a date. My dad didn’t seem to mind a bit. In fact I think he enjoyed taking me around. This is how he taught me of love’s patience.
During college I decided to spend a semester in Japan. Of all places, I wanted to go halfway around the world for 4 months living with a family whom my dad would never meet and never have any contact with. You’d think he’d be scared as heck, but all I received was his unwavering support. He was proud and called me his Princess Traveler.
A decade later, I asked him how he could let me do that. He said, ‘You have to trust your kids.’
He always supported my dreams, no matter how crazy it seemed to him. And so I learned, love is trusting.
When I moved to Florida my parents came down from Pennsylvania to visit for a weekend. Back then I had some particular eating habits that my dad was not fond of: I was vegan. My prime rib-loving, cheeseburger-eating father was slightly ashamed of me for the only time in my life! But guess what he did that weekend? He ate my Snickerdoodle soymilk ice cream, and I have the photographic evidence! I relish this photo because it reminds me that love is accepting. And when his vegan girl started eating real cheese and chicken again, I saw how love is grateful.
Whether you’re a daddy’s girl like me, the father of a daughter, or just someone who knows the feeling of love, I hope your heart is full and you’re able to love with a little more enthusiasm, a little more patience, trust, and acceptance, because you just might be teaching someone else what it means to love and be loved.
Your Turn: What does Father’s Day mean to you? How is your relationship with your father? What are your favorite moments with your dad or as a dad? Please leave a reply below to share your story with us.