It was a lot for me to write this. I have such an amazing relationship with my dad now and I wanted to celebrate him this Father’s Day. However, our relationship was not always great, and I find myself thinking about it when Father’s Day comes around. I walk through the card aisle of the stores and read through so many cards before I can find the right one. Most of the cards talk about how wonderful their dad has been all their lives and that has not always been true for me. But after some time, I found the perfect card for him.
Father’s Day used to be such an awkward day for me. As a kid I had mixed emotions whenever the day would come around. My heart was filled with anger because my dad would not make time for me. However, I was surrounded by so many great fathers who stepped in, making me feel happy and loved. And as a kid I did not know how to balance between the two feelings. My parents were divorced when I was young and as a result, I did not see my dad as much. I mean he lived super close to my mom’s house, but he had other obligations and unfortunately, I was not one of them and I never understood why. I remember questioning why so many of my friend’s dads were a part of their lives and mine was not. Was I not a good enough daughter for him? Did he not love me because he did not love my mom? So many questions and not enough answers.
The one thing I did to keep me from being angry with every father was the wonderful father figures that were in my life. Thank you, Papa, John, Anthony, and Verlon. They showed me what it meant to be a great father. My grandfather was my best friend. He taught me so much. He is the man who taught me how to drive because my mom said she just could not do it. We hung out all the time. He was my shopping buddy. Whenever he needed to pick up stuff for my grandmother, I was right there to drive him to the stores. He showed me what unconditional love was by the way he loved my grandmother and all the kids in his life. My favorite memory is Christmas Eve every year. He would drag me to the mall with him to do his last-minute shopping for my grandmother’s gift. It became our little tradition (one that I still do to this day – I have to go to the mall on Christmas Eve to buy something). Now John, was my mom’s friend who stepped in as my dad. He loved me like I was his own daughter. He provided for me like a father should. Don’t get me wrong, we had that father/daughter “I can’t stand you” relationship too. When I hit my teenage years, he would try to tell me I could not do something, and I would be quick to remind him he was not my dad. But John never let that bother him. He still loved me and hugged me daily. I did find out what it meant to have a dad in the house that one time I tried to sneak a boy in. Man, when John caught me, it was all over after that. I got to see what a dad does when boys are involved. In that moment I hated him because he was treating me like a baby. But looking back, I am so glad he did. I needed that lesson even though I did not think so. Now Anthony and Verlon…those where my BONUS dads. Their daughters were in my Girl Scout troops and they stood in the gap for me. Our first father/daughter event for Girl Scouts my dad said he could not make it (he had other obligations that I rather not discuss) and I was devastated. I was the only girl at the father/daughter event with no dad. I just wanted to go home. But my mom was the troop leader, so I had to be there My friend Nikki came up to me and said, “hey I can share my dad.” From that moment Nikki and I went from friends to sisters. I spent so many nights at their house. Her dad even let me call him dad, so I never felt like I did not belong. Then there was Anthony. I called him Uncle Tony, but he was more like my dad too. When the big Northridge earthquake happened in the 90’s, I was too afraid to stay home alone in the mornings when my mom had to leave for work. I did not want to have to walk to school (around the corner) alone. MY friend Stella, who was also in my Girl Scouts troop, was like, “You should just come to my house in the mornings since we go to the same school!” I asked my mom and she talked to Stella’s parents. This was a big ask because that meant my mom would be dropping me off at their house at 5:30 am every day. Uncle Tony said sure with no hesitation. Instantly we became family. From that moment I was at their house not only on school days but weekends too. Uncle Tony did everything for us. He would pick us up from school, cook dinner before Girl Scout meetings, drop us off all before having to work the night shift at work. He and Auntie Ida filled in the gap my single mother needed. I am forever grateful for them.
But there was always something missing in my life. I missed my own father. When it was time for my wedding, I struggled with having my dad walk me down the aisle. I was not sure if he deserved that honor because I was still holding on to the anger I had for him as a child. However, I could not imagine looking at my wedding photos and him not being by my side, so I let go of the anger and he did just that. He walked me down the aisle and honestly it was the best decision of my life. It opened the door of communication for us. I saw another side to my dad that had been missing in my life for years. The way he smiled as he grabbed my arm before the door of the church opened melted my heart. He leaned over to me and said, “Thank you for sharing your moment with me…I love you daughter.” Those were the words I yearned for forever and they have stayed with me ever since.
I remember when things took a huge turn in our relationship. I had surgery on my foot and could not drive. My dad worked the night shift, and he would come over every morning after work just to sit with me for a few hours. My husband would be at work and the kids at school, so it was just daddy/daughter time. Man, this time was precious to me. It was the time I wanted since I was a little girl. We had so much in common that neither of us even knew. When I was well enough to finally leave the house, my dad would come pick me up and we would hit the streets. We started off with some good food because between the two of us we could eat. Even if I was in pain, I would beg him to keep me out a little longer because I was tired of laying up in bed and watching TV all day. We would go to Target or Walmart–he would get me one of those scooters and it was all over. We would be in the stores for hours. HE knew just what I needed. It was the best. We talked about the past and how upset I was as a kid. He apologized and we just moved on from there. It was no point to hold onto the past. We were building our present & future relationship. Now I talk to my dad daily. And OMG if I don’t talk to him, he is texting and will say, “it’s been 30 Sundays since we talked.” I love him and he loves me, and this bond can never be broken.
Rest easy Papa, John, and Uncle Tony. I miss and LOVE each one of you. Thank you, Dad, for finally seeing and hearing me. I love the relationship we are building. I am so blessed and grateful for having you as my dad. I enjoy watching you become a better father and now even better grandfather. You never miss a beat and that’s all a girl could ask for.
HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!