Site Meter Elsie's Space: Happy Dad's Day
Location: New England, United States

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Dad's Day

Dear Old Dad. He's referred to himself that way ever since I can remember. It used to be cute and funny. Now it's a little sad. But he's still around, something I doubted just two years ago, and that's why I'm so glad it's Father's Day. I try to think of it this way, he's definitely old now, but that just means that I have lots of wonderful memories of my life with him because we've been around the block so many times together.

My first memory of Dad is at Silver Beach on Cape Cod. We'd vacation there every summer when I was a kid. Dad would get down on all fours in the surf, and the three of us kids would take turns standing on his back and jumping into the waves. There was nothing better. It was fun in the way only kids understand fun. And it felt safe, Dad was right there to get you if a rogue wave tossed you in.

I remember Dad taking us kids to our swimming lessons at the Y every weekend. He insisted that if we were to live near the water (and around here it's water, water everywhere) we all needed to know how to swim. And he meant it. We all had to take lessons for years. And now, as we age ourselves, my brother, sister and I are all still among the strongest swimmers I know.

I remember toe dancing with Dad. He always had music playing on his stereo. Classical mostly, but often he'd put on something to dance to, and I would hop right up on his toes and he'd dance me around the room. It felt sort of magical back then. It feels sort of magical now just thinking about it.

I remember going on my first real date. Just before the boy came over to pick me up, Dad gave me a small green leather coin purse filled with dimes. Then he told me, "If a boy ever wants you to do something that you don't want to do, you give him a dime, tell him to call me, and if I say it's okay, you'll do it." What? But, okay. I just wanted to go out. Nothing happened that night. But sure enough, perhaps a year later, a boy was being very "persistent" and I couldn't really see a way out, but then Dad's voice popped into my head and I just blurted out the words he'd given me. The poor kid looked at me like I was nuts, put his hands back on the steering wheel, and took me home. Dad to the rescue and he never even knew it!

I remember being punished. Dad expected you to be honest with him, above all else. There was never, ever any physical punishment. Dad told us of being beaten with a belt when he was a child, and he always knew he'd never hit his kids. And he never did. Instead he'd sit me down to discuss whatever might have happened. Then we'd have to discuss the outcome and every other possible outcome there could have been because I hadn't considered the consequences of my actions. These talks would usually last at least an hour. By the time it was all over, I could have been responsible for the end of civilization as we know it. I used to sometimes wish he'd just smack me and get it over with. It might have been easier! But now, I understand.

I remember going to my folk's house to tell them that I'd decided to go to rehab. I remember the shocked look on their faces -- "drugs, what drugs?" And then Dad, in his inimitable way took my hands into his and told me how proud he was of me and that he would do anything to help me. Then he asked me if he could take me there. How cool is that?

I remember having a big white wedding. During the planning all Dad ever said was "whatever she wants." Pretty great if you're the bride (wish Mom's attitude could have been the same). The only thing he insisted upon was that I take dancing lessons with him. Yes, really and truly. So I took months of lessons with him and learned the Viennese Waltz. I could see later why he wanted me to do that. It was like something out of a movie, father and bride dancing, completely filling the room. The place was abuzz. People really did seem awestruck. It was weird. But Dad loved every minute of it and couldn't have been more proud. Too bad that marriage didn't stick, because we don't ever talk about it any more.

I remember spending hours in the Cardiac Care Unit, watching Dad sleep and listening intently to every little beep and buzz. Staring at monitors and wondering if I'd ever see him outside this place.

I get to see him later today. I can't wait. I'm still daddy's little girl.


Anonymous Luggage Plus said...

Hello what lovely memories you have shared.

9:43 AM  

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