Sunday, June 19, 2011

My Dad

my dad with his grandson, drew
As I sit in an outdoor cafe in the city of Chicago, I see dads everywhere this morning. Babies strapped in like joeys on a kangaroo, in strollers, hand in hand and walking dogs. Most of the dads seem to be in pursuit of coffee which says something right there, I suppose.
My dad lived in Chicago briefly climbing the corporate ladder at Scott Paper Company back in the 70's. When I was 7 or 8 years old, he had a townhouse somewhere near the Lake. I have vague memories of being sea-sick out on a sailboat a few times. There's also a photo of me in a bikini in a rooftop pool, overlooking the city (too bad I can't find it to photo, as it's typical tom-boy, flat-chested, stringy black-haired Melissa.)
I recall a reversible doll Dad gave me to play with. Gifts were seemed to be the only way at that time he knew how to show his love to me in a tangible way. One half of the doll was a happy face, the other half when you flip her dress over, was a sad face. She obviously had 2 heads. What a metaphor for my growing up years. As a hormonal teen girl, I had a lot of happy and a good bit of sadness, not much in between. Bouncing around from my mom's during the school year to my dad's for holidays and summer months, divorced parents were to me, normal. I didn't know any differently. And, frankly, I can't imagine my parents ever married. What were they thinking?! They are so far from the same ideals and personalities that it's strange browse their wedding photos, smiling and so full of youth and dreamy happiness.
Looking back, I can see how hard it must have been to be a part-time dad. And, looking forward, I can see clearly now, with eyes of grace, how beautiful a relationship can be when you just accept the other for who they are. I've always had such a difficult time taking my father's advise. And, now, I covet it in spite of the fact that I don't always follow it, as my father would be the first to tell you. But, I am so grateful for the wisdom of his experiences. I truly admire the man he's become. He's living a life I'm sure he never dreamed he would going into his 70's as a caretaker of a wife of Alzheimer's. But the courage he exhibits is something that I hope to emulate in my own life. Thank you, dad for loving me, even when I was "full of beans"* and seemingly never listening to your words of wisdom. I have been listening.
I love you.
Happy Father's Day.

*Full of beans=  tall tales and slight exaggerations in stories told

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