I am your typical little girl when it comes to my Daddy. I might get so mad at him, and I am easily hurt by his actions, but through it all... Ups, downs, thick and thin... I am a Daddy's Girl!
When I was a kid, he was my hero. Some of my best memories center around him, and some of my worst do to. I remember always trying to please him and live up to his expectations. I also remember thinking that even if I did, he wouldn't notice. He sure set some high goals.
Daddy's Hands by Holly Dunn is my favorite song to describe my relationship with my Dad!
Dad has always been a "go my own way" kind of guy. And for a lot of years he kind of stepped out of our lives. He'd show up now and again, but basically he was living his own life. It hurt, but that's Dad. A few years ago, he had a stroke, a bad one (not that there is a good one). Everything changed then. Unbelievably for the better.
I always knew Dad loved us. There was never any doubt. I also always knew that Dad had a tough time with saying the words. He just stumbled hard with them. I don't know if it was his upbringing, I struggle to remember if Gramma Armstrong said I love you much... I simply don't remember. For Dad, "I love you's" were usually linked with traumatic or life changing events. They weren't given out freely, they were closely guarded. When Mom's heart finally started giving her fits when my baby girl was only 18 months old, that was an "I love you" moment, when I got married the first time - that warranted one too. Although leaving the eighteen year old bull headed me in Germany did not. That earned me a cold glare and turned back. He didn't say the words, you just simply knew.
Dad thought up the fun trips, shared his love of history and education, and most of all pushed all of us girls. He was the stern force, he'd wanted sons and been given daughters. He solved it by raising strong, independent girls.
That sort of bit him in the bottom, because as we grew, we didn't "need" him. Oh, we needed and wanted him in our lives, but not like he needed us to need him. With Dad it took longer to transition into friends. He was gone so much due to his career, that to him we were still small children not young adults. Mom was our constant, she is the one that we eagerly went from children to adults with. From parent to friendship. With Dad it was a struggle.
There were still hiccups and hurts as we migrated to where we are today after his stroke. Dad was too out of it after the stroke to understand the dynamics. I prefer not to speak ill of the dead, suffice it to say, that despite all the hurts and pains inflicted in recent years the first ones to his side were his girls. The two middle girls went first, taking turns. It was as it needed to be. The book ends, we didn't go, by the time it was our turn he was home again. And none of us needed to be part of that.
As prayers kicked in, and Dad slowly healed, huge changes were occurring. Little did we know the stroke that took his freedom would ultimately return our Daddy to us. His wife was not prepared to take care of his needs, and we found out in very harsh ways. Nothing was worse than a phone call you can barely understand, filled with tears saying "I hungry", from more than a thousand miles away. Eventually, our need to take care of him, led us to bring him closer to home. He picked, there were two of us in Illinois and two in Arkansas. It wasn't going to be easy, but he needed to be helped. He chose Arkansas.
My sisters had their hands full, it was hell on earth some days. I felt so helpless, I wasn't dealing with the hurt they were, and all I could do was listen over the phone and say a lot of prayers. And call Dad.
You can always tell when he hasn't slept or his medication is wrong, his speech would be brutal to understand. While he should have been on the path to recovery he was not, but during those long calls we were able to start bonding. Finally becoming friends. We talked politics, gardening, life, and dreams. Slowly it evolved. I was lucky. My sisters had to deal with the struggles his "wife" caused, I simply refused to deal with her. From hundreds of miles away, that was easy, I just hung up if I didn't feel like dealing.
As time moved on, Dad's life changed yet again. And so did the rest of the family. We got our Daddy back. Family activities are full now, complete. Daddy and I don't talk as often on the phone, he doesn't need it anymore... but every now and then... we still have lively conversations. And when we visit face to face we get to laugh and talk over coffee while he smokes his cigarettes.
It's nice to have Daddy back in our world, our lives. It's nice to see him smile and laugh, see him enjoy time with his Grand kids and Great Grand kids, those relationships are starting to grow.
Even through it all... I am still a Daddy's Girl! My mom is one of my two best friends, my daughter is the other... but my Daddy... well he's simply my Daddy.
My own kids have their Daddy stories, they have all been blessed by wonderful loving Dad's and down the road they will have their memories to share.
Happy Father's Day to all those Daddy's out there... remember there is a little you looking up to you at all times!