Sunday, June 15, 2008

Why My Dad is Awesome, For Father’s Day.

Alternate Title: Why Having a Little Girl Should Send You Running in Fear

This is for my dad, who actually doesn’t know this site exists. Hi, Dad!

You were the one who taught me to love Chablis. At age four.

You were the one who taught me that Kanga, having a son named Roo, was actually a pun. Clever! I remember parroting your words on a box at recess, to an audience of ignorant pre-schoolers. I felt so wise.

You were the one who taught me that half of a half was a quarter, thus breaking up the tedious drive to Grandma’s into fractions. SO INTERESTING! (OMG, you tried so hard to breed a math geek, you really did.) Speaking of, I remember you waking up at 4:00 AM to help me with pre-calc in high school. In a moment of hateful, rebellious teenage angst, I had decided early morning was a better time to study than late night. I am still not sure why you didn’t hit me upside the head and tell me to go back to sleep.

You taught me to saw wood and hammer it together with rusty nails when I wanted a swing for my doll. Fischer Price can suck it. Building your own swing (with an arm on a hinge!) while dodging tetanus was so much more satisfying.

I remember you singing railroad songs to me on a stool in the workshop. I thought your voice was magical and beautiful, and your guitar playing was lovely. I believe this goes back to my point about my inheriting your complete lack of rhythm and harmony and anything musical-appreciation-y. I am surprised we did not shatter windows.

You were the one who taught me not to let “truth” get in the way of a good story. On the other hand, lying is WRONG.

I remember being angry that you wouldn’t run for president. You were the smartest person I had ever encountered. Even at an early age, I remember thinking, “Wow, my dad is so much smarter than other adults.” It probably helped that we grew up in the boonies where teeth and education were optional.

I remember watching thunderstorms with you late at night, wrapped up in a blanket in the living room. The view was spectacular from the large picture windows across the fields, but we weren’t usually allowed in the living room. It was a room for grown-ups. It felt slightly forbidden. That, plus the warm blanket, plus your strong arms, plus the cracking lightning outside made it just about the most delicious feeling in the world.

I remember seeing you cry when the cat died. My heart was breaking for the Muffin, but it broke for you, too.

I inherited my love of foreign languages from you. Mostly French. I think it might be because you used to tell my mom where the Christmas presents were hidden in French.

You fed me beer for constipation and ice cream for a broken heart. Two life lessons I still use.

I learned to waltz on your feet on the heinous orange shag carpet in our front hall. Again, we had no rhythm, but we certainly didn’t let that get in the way of our good time.

You used to let me and my friends style your hair with my cheap crimping iron and plastic bows. Why? Dad, sometimes, it’s o.k. to draw a line. I burned those pictures just in case you ever do decide to run for president. You’re welcome.

And I remember the late nineties. Mom was going through menopause. My brother was being as rebellious as his computer geek soul would allow, and I was in the process of throwing another hysterical hissy fit about lord-only-knows-what-contrived-teenaged-crisis I had invented that day. You were the twinkly blue calm eyes in our family storm. I remember summoning up the words, between drawn-out sobs to ask you, “Why do you put up with us?” I think I would have walked out on us, if I were you.

I remember your answer so vividly. You smiled a genuine smile, blue eyes twinkling even more, and simply replied, “Cathy*, I don’t put up with you, I love you.”

That was probably the most powerful sentence I have ever heard. Only ever trumped by one Funasaurus when he said, “Will you marry me?”

I remember your fondness for the Washington Redskins and The Sound of Music.

It’s o.k., no one’s perfect.

And I know I’m your daughter because we both love to ski and hike. And still like wood paneling, even though it’s out of style. And we both like to eat anchovies. And despise barley. (Unless it’s fermented.) I’m also your daughter because I like to drive little sporty cars a little too fast.

I wish I could get you a sporty little car for Father’s Day. Instead I got you a book, because you’re also an avid reader. I only wish I could remember as much as you do from what I read.

I hope you have a good Father’s Day all the same. We’ll certainly have wine, another family favorite. Cheers.

*Childhood name used for keepin' it real in sappy story, not for giving permission to anyone to go back to calling me that.


Princess of the Universe said...

Awww- your Dad is awesome too. :)

Ramblin' Red said...

Very sweet.

Your dad sounds like a great guy!

Diane said...

Lovely tribute.

Anonymous said...

Shall I burn the remaining photos of us styling your dad's hair????
Can I still call you Cathy???

Waouh so many doubts now!

I do agree though, your dad is great :))


Pauline said...

this was a marvelous read! Is he as funny as you are, too?

Guilty Secret said...

That was beautiful. If your dad doesn't know about this blog, will you print this out for him?

Yoga Gal said...

Great blog! Your dad does sound super!

Melissa said...

Ahhhh....that's so sweet. Must admit, I am a wee bit jealous!

Michele said...

What a beautiful post. I hope your Dad got a chance to read it.