Monday, October 26, 2009

The Truth About My Dad

My parents got married when I was 5. I thought my new dad was wonderful. I was so proud of the fact that he adopted me. He chose me. He wanted me to be his daughter, and I wanted him to be my dad. This was way more special than when daughters were just born to fathers! This was finding and choosing and deciding that we would be a family.

I adored him. What he said was law. When he was happy, so was I. When I disappointed him, I just wanted to die.

So of course, there had to be the inevitable fall. Even in a family that wasn't in the stranglehold of the million rules and rituals that made up the twisted religion to which we adhered mind and body with every waking breath, there was often a fall...a teenage rebellion, a sundering of opinion or affection. It's really pretty normal. But in our family, bound up so tightly, watched so closely, the fall was explosive. My teenage years were a war zone, and the deep well of admiration that I had for my father turned to poisonous rage and a disillusionment so complete I could taste it, acrid on my tongue.

Frankly, I don't think he liked me much in those years either.

It took a long time, and a lot of work to be able to remember the attachment that I had for my new dad. Our relationship is still very much a work in progress, but I am happy to be able to love him again...and with a much better kind of affection. This time it is founded on an understanding of the fallibility and frailty of us both. It's founded on truth.

And the truth is that there is a lot to admire in my father.
I admire that:

He's the kind of guy who will drive 5 hours, fix your deck, help wash dishes, chauffeur your mom around for shopping and drive 5 hours home again on his only days off that month.

He's the kind of guy who will take on a brand new, completely different career at the age of 54, after an adulthood of ministerial work just isn't making ends meet.

He's the kind of guy who rarely, if ever, complains.

He's the kind of guy who can change.

He's the kind of guy who takes his grandsons fishing...and swimming and skating and bowling, and teaches them archery and tells them stories, and who doesn't give up, even when it seems impossible to connect with two small boys who find connection difficult at times.

He's the kind of guy who can be oh, so tender and gentle with his youngest, special needs daughter.

He's the kind of guy that gets up at 3 in the morning to go to the hospital and minister to a family of people he has never met, who have lost a child at birth and have asked for someone to come and comfort them.

He's the kind of guy who is not afraid of faith,

not afraid to say he's sorry,

not afraid of hard work,

and not afraid to say "I love you".

And I love him too.


  1. THis is so awesome. It's this kind of rebirth that everyone can hope for in their relationship with parents.

  2. Oh man. I am in a puddle over here! You're killin' me. Killin' me! And I love it.

  3. I found becoming a parent let me see my own parents in a whole new way, and this continues to be true as they are growing up as young adults, I have more compassion for my parents and understand what made them behave certain ways when I was a very bad teen too

  4. Thank you so much. It was really hard to write, but I'm glad I did. Yay for rebirth!

    @dryadart Yes, my perspective totally changed when I became a parent myself. I understood more, the hardness started to seep away, the healing could begin...for the first time I felt grateful too instead of only hurt and critical.


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