It's Father's Day! I am sitting here listening to the song that has always made me think of my own Daddy. Holly Dunn put so many of my thoughts and feelings about my Dad to music when she recorded it. I've listened to it probably a million times over the years. And I feel the same about it today, as I did the first time I heard it.
I am pretty much a self-described Daddy's Girl. I still to this day remember being a young girl and stating quite adamantly that my Daddy was my Hero. He was.
Please don't think that it was an easy path where he is concerned. It wasn't and isn't. Dad is a complicated man. Who loves deeply, but often had a hard time showing that love. And rarely, if ever voiced it. We've had our ups and downs, we've fought, we've made up. I am probably the only daughter that has not one or two letters, but seven all disowning me. That was always his way of letting us know that we'd hurt him. He never meant it, it was just his way. I would bet my sisters have a few of their own.
Over the course of my life, I've had some rough conversations with my Daddy. I have walked away because the hurt was too great to deal with, I have rushed to his arms when my heart was breaking. And probably far too many times I have cursed the hurt in his life that made him a distant person, too afraid to show the love in his heart.
I wish I could lay my hands on one of my favorite pictures of my Dad and I... It was the day I graduated from High School, we were at the house before the service. I was being a clown, and in my pretty pink suit climbed into my Daddy's lap. Mom took a picture, the love and laughter in both of our eyes still makes me smile, even though I currently can only see that picture in my mind.
My entire life I had been trying to make him proud of me. For years it was a driving factor in all I did. So many times I felt I let him down. His shoes were too big, his dreams often collided with mine. But I sure was trying hard to make him proud.
There were many times in our lives when Dad wasn't there. Mom was our Dad and filled the void many times. She never complained about it, and she always made sure that we knew he loved us deeply. That life, the military and demons we couldn't see where the reason he wasn't there. Never that it wasn't his love or lack of love for us.
When Dad hit a spot in his life where he couldn't face his own demons and did some things that hurt us all, that strained our relationships to the point of breaking forever... there was always that bond. It was with a mix of hurt and joy that I was often told that I was just like my father during that time frame.
The years have dashed by, I remember so many times of laughter and tears, sadness and joy, strength and weakness. I remember every time Mom had a health crisis his strength, even though you could see and hear the hurt and pain - the fear of loss in his eyes. He tried his best to be strong for us girls.
I remember the sheer devastation when he himself suffered a devastating stroke and he was alone. All of us girls were far from him and the people that should have been with him were too selfish to do so. Us girls making our plans to go to him, one at a time based on his needs and what we could bring to the table. We sent the nurse first... she was best able to see him through the first parts of recovery and could speak intelligently to the doctors. She could advocate for him. Next was the second oldest, oh I wanted it to be me, I had the time and could do it, but she had a greater need.
I was going to go next... but by then he was home and I wasn't needed.
Eventually we brought him home, back from the west. I really hoped he'd come back to Illinois, but it wasn't meant to be. He wanted to be where Mom was. Life has taken twists and turns. The stern man that was always there loving and supporting, but only saying I love you in times of crisis. Is much softer now. His heart shows much easier.
This Daddy's girl can now call her Daddy and talk about everything silly, serious, deep and shallow. Yet I know each and every phone call ends with "I love you Daddy... I love you too Baby..." It took almost 50 years and much hurt and heartache to get here, but I am so glad we have. I still want my Daddy to be proud of me, but I am strong enough in who I am to know I don't have to be the one that fulfills his dreams for us. He has a daughter that fulfilled his dreams of a college degree, he has a tomboy that keeps him in check, he has one that is his baby... and then there is me... The oldest. I have probably let him down the most, but my love for him has never wavered.
He's still my Hero...