My first day of my Freshman year of high school and an acquaintance looks at my class schedule in hand and asks, “how did you get into all of these smart classes and I didn’t?!” I told her that I had teacher recommendation letters in order to enter the honors classes. It was the truth, mostly. The part I left out is how my Dad asked the teachers for the recommendation letters for me, and then went to the high school guidance office to ensure my placement into the advanced classes. Except math. No one, even my own Dad, had high hopes when it came to me and math. Thank God.
My Dad pushed me so hard my whole life. I needed to have a wider vocabulary, higher grades, better manners, a higher level of fitness. Hindsight vision really is the best vision…I used to think he was critical of me, but now I know the truth. He believed in me completely and without question. That is why he would fight for me, push me, become disappointed when I failed to reach my potential, and then push me some more. He had complete faith in me, which took me years to notice. He just kept raising the bar and challenging and empowering me to become the best version of myself. He loved me so much, and saw things that I didn’t, and sometimes I still struggle to see. In some ways, my Dad was a feminist before it was cool.
I can hear his laugh after reading that last sentence. But he wouldn’t deny it.
He was an awesome Dad and an awesome person. Was…
My hero is gone now. It’s been nearly a year, and today marks the first Father’s Day without my father.
So much has changed in one year, and I wonder all of the time if he is disappointed in me. I’ve been a mental wreck, quit a job that I loved, stood by and loved someone who never loved me, made decisions that I am ashamed of, held onto anger that eats away at my soul, and have been discarded by a man who promised my Dad he would always take care of me.
A thought that occasionally crosses my mind is that I’m glad he isn’t alive to see the mess that my life has become. I know that’s a horrible thought, but when someone believes in you, like my Dad believed in me, you hate disappointing them. Mostly though, I daydream about how the last year would have been so different with him in our lives. He was magic. I swear the man had superpowers. He had the ability to make everyone around him feel happy and special. I was a spoiled princess every year on my birthday. I couldn’t walk downstairs without my Dad singing, “here she comes! Miss America!” But that was everyday.
The man wasn’t raised well, honestly. He had it pretty bad growing up. Usually, when those boys grow up and become fathers, their children don’t fare too well. They are usually given a shitty upbringing because it’s all their parent knows.
Not me. Not my siblings. Our Dad was the exception.
He loved us with all that he had, and then some. He sacrificed so much for us. He wanted us to have the best, be the brightest, learn to make our own choices, and allowed us to feel the consequences of our decisions.
He was “on the floor” Dad. He loved to play with us at any age. He would play board games, remote control cars, he took my brother and I to the Coastal Carolina Fair every year and would ride all of the rides with us, even my favorite, The Gravitron, repeatedly. He would take us camping, fishing, boating. Pretty much everywhere he went, we were allowed to go with him. He always seemed to love his time with us.
I thought he was a great Dad, but it may pale in comparison to what a great “G-daddy” he was to my children. I’ll never know if my Dad had a favorite grandchild, but I do know my son, Miller, put G-daddy up on a pedestal. My Dad was his best buddy. Miller was only 4 years old when my father passed away unexpectedly, but he still talks about his G-daddy almost everyday.
Last year on Father’s Day, my Dad was alive and well. He suggested that we all go out to Red’s on Shem Creek for lunch. We sat at the rooftop bar and talked and laughed while we waited for our table. We actually planned my Dad’s birthday while the four of us were gathered: we would charter a boat Labor Day weekend and the whole family would have a blast.
We never dreamt that we would be on that boat without him.
Say a little prayer right now and thank God if you are still lucky enough to have your dad around. Cherish the time that you have left with the people you love. Don’t take them for granted. Use your time wisely and choose your words carefully. If you love someone, tell them. Always. Never be afraid to love, even when it may not be reciprocated. Terrifying is the thought of withholding love and then forever losing the opportunity to express it. Don’t leave anything on the table that may become missed opportunities and regret one day.
Terrifying is the thought of withholding love and then forever losing the opportunity to express it.
If you’re a Dad, Happy Father’s Day. You make a massive impact on one little person, but also on society. (No pressure).
If you have a Dad, visit him. Tell him you appreciate how much time, love, attention, affection and wisdom he has poured into you.
If you are like me, and today is somewhat somber, smile anyways. Your Dad would want you to, and you wouldn’t want to disappoint him.
In loving memory of my Dad, Danny Patrick