A Later Dad

One day my mother came home from rehearsal for the church praise team and stated, “The drummer said I looked gorgeous tonight.” Single-mom-with-teenager was working out pretty good for us, but I was happy for her.

A few months later mom and said drummer had eloped. What the….? As you can imagine, there was an adjustment period. This was over twenty years ago, and honestly, I don’t really remember how I treated him at first… of course I have a vague notion that I gave him some major teenage girl attitude! One day I do remember: I was putting on lipstick in my room when step-dad walked by and said something to the effect of, “I can’t believe you are putting on that lipstick… like some Jezebel!” I now know how vintage Dad that sort of joke is, but the 15-year old me was shocked and quickly shut the door. I didn’t know what to think. Mom came swiftly and tried to get into the room to check on me. I didn’t want to let her in, but when she finally got her head around the door frame she saw me laughing silently. To this day she says that was when she knew we would be alright.

Since then we have had tough times like all families, but I have so many good memories of post-single-mom life. During the high school years Dad and I attended two father-daughter dinner dances together and danced the night away. We also went on two family vacations! The first was to Canada; I’ll never forget the three of us crossing that suspension bridge. The following year we went to the Grand Canyon. On the drive there, Dad insisted that I ask him repeatedly “Are we there yet?” like Bart Simpson. And that’s another thing- we share the same taste in movies and TV shows. We love The Simpsons, Lost, the Alien movies, Planet of the Apes… Who else would go see Event Horizon and The Mist with me? My husband likes romantic comedies for crying out loud. Dad’s my best movie buddy, then, now, and forever.

He (and mom) found me a man (ha!) in Jamaica after they moved there to become missionaries. He called my husband-to-be and told him he was the kind of guy he wanted his daughter to marry, which gave him the sign he needed to pursue me one final time. One of my favorite wedding pictures is of Dad and me at the end of the aisle. I am gazing with love and joy and excitement into my husband’s face; he is standing there with his head slightly bowed and a tear on his cheek. In fact, he asked me after I had sent out some of the pictures, “Are there any of me smiling?” There really aren’t any until the reception, when the photographer captured some great actions shot of us doing the snake during our father-daughter dance to “My Girl.”

I love those sad ceremony pictures because they show that Dad felt a loss when his job of caring for and covering me was over. It meant that he treasured that responsibility and treasured me. And that’s what I appreciate more than the vacations and movie nights- the fact that he has always made an effort to speak into my life- words of wisdom, words of warning, words of encouragement. It still means so much to me when he says, “I’m proud of you, and I respect you.”

Some dads are there from the beginning; a step-dad came into my life fifteen years in and became my Daddy and it changed my life. I wrote my college essay about our relationship and how I learned it is easier to love someone than to hate them. Dad, I think that essay got me into Stanford University, so here’s to you! : )

And here’s to all the dads that do so many things large and small to give their children a better life. Happy Father’s Day!

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