It's Father's Day. Let me start out first by saying how much I love my husband and the father that he is to our children. That said, I'm paying tribute to my own father today, a man whom I adore.
I think for Father's Day, I will make a batch of Thousand Island dressing. My father always enjoys telling the story of when he attempted to make Thousand Island dressing for himself and Mary, my stepmother. He had a hankering for the sweet-tart goodness, and thought, how hard could it possibly be? Salivating wildly, he started with a mixing bowl and all the ingredients at the ready. He began the process, trying to find the "just right" proportion of mayonnaise to ketchup. It involved tasting, adding a bit more ketchup, tasting again, adding a bit more mayo. As the story goes, he switched from a small mixing bowl to a medium sized mixing bowl, to a large one, making enough Thousand Island dressing to feed a small army. He thrust himself wholeheartedly into the process, throwing caution and all common sense out the window...until he had in front of him the perfect Thousand Island dressing. Much to the dismay of my stepmother, this was the same salad dressing that probably dressed salads until they couldn't stomach another piece of romaine with that salmon pink nectar pooling on their plates.
I have always been proud to call my father my dad. Coming from a family of divorce, there certainly were times of hardship. I did all the things kids from divorce do: ask why, blame myself, and worry about what my future would be like with a dad that lived so far away. Having almost 40 years experience being a child of divorce, I can say with all sincerity that I have great appreciation for how my parents handled the divorce. My mom never said an unkind word about my father, and my father never said an unkind word about my mother. There was a mutual respect that made it easier on me, and allowed me to freely love both of them -- and not feel badly about it.
Could my dad have been around more? Sure. I like to think that the years he went "radio silent" were probably the years that he didn't need to witness. The awkward, gangly, boy-crazy, angst-ridden teenager that I was would not have mixed well with a man who was stressed in every way possible--physically, emotionally, financially. I am convinced my relationship with him today is as strong as it is because we did have some years apart. And to be honest, my dad has more than made up for the time that he lost.
Whether my father realizes it or not, he has taught me some very valuable life lessons. He would laugh and think that I was being ridiculous by saying that, as he credits my mother with most of the child rearing success. While I will not disagree that my mother was a profound influence in my life, I would argue that my dad was equally as influential, albeit in a different way.
Here are just a few of his tidbits:
1. Laugh. Try and find a reason to laugh everyday. Usually it will be because of yourself.
Truer words have never been spoken. Some of my favorite moments with my father were doubled-over, tears streaming down my cheeks, and gasping for breath. Talk about an ab workout. There were the "Pit" games gone mad, the ruthless cheating at "Uno," or my personal favorite laughing fit with my father during the final scene in "Victor/Victoria."
2. Don't be scared, be smart.
My mom had a way of instilling fear in my sisters and I. She was a worrier of the worst variety. My father, however, always kept a cool head. When it came to fears, he had little sympathy. He grew up in an era where if it didn't kill ya, it made ya stronger. He encouraged us to think before we panicked. Sometimes fears are your mind playing nasty tricks on you...you should never stop living because of them.
3. It's okay to say "I love you."
This was never expressly told to me by my dad, but he was always good at telling us how much he loved us. I still, to this day, give my father a hug and a kiss when I'm saying hello or goodbye. I love that he is freely affectionate and always reminding us of how he feels about us. It was one of the reasons I forgave him for all of his mistakes. All that mattered was that I knew he loved me.
These lessons and so many more, I carry with me everyday.
As a parent myself, I enjoy seeing the little bits of my father that my children carry with them. Isaac has the athletic prowess that I imagine my father did as a young boy. Evy, who is named after my dad, possesses a need for precision in her playing, building, and drawing, much like my father uses precision in his work. Margot is my risk-taker, never afraid to try anything, even if it involves an injury. Similarly, my dad has always enjoyed adventure -- traveling the world, trying new things, even having endured an injury or two.
So on this, Father's Day, I think about, appreciate, and simply love the man I call Dad. He is so perfectly my father, that I wouldn't change a single thing about the person that he is. Well, perhaps I'll just make sure when he visits next, we have some Thousand Island dressing on hand.
I love you, Dad. Happy Father's Day.