I think my Dad was always preparing for a time when he would not be here. He was 57 when I was born; 91 when he died. My time with him will always be insufficient—who among us can ever say we had enough time with our dads? There is never enough time.
In the time we had, he passed on so many lessons—especially how to navigate in this world, on my own and how to own my place with in it. He would rely on me to do little things; while telling me how to do the big things someday. I’d wrap his Christmas presents; while he told me how important holiday traditions would be to my future family. I’d help him with his tux; while he reminded me how taking pride in your appearance can give you the mental boost you need to get through hard times. I’d review my brother’s IEP with him; while he told me to always know the law and know how to use it to protect your family.
I remember when he noticed how much I loved to read into the night and in the car and whenever I could carve out a few stolen moments.
He told me about when he discovered books—his favorites were Gulliver’s Island, Mark Twain. Louis L’Amour Westerns and then later Mary Higgins Clark, our shared favorite mystery author. I used to imagine my strong, mature adult Dad as a boy, in his attic bedroom in Elkins Park reading into the wee hours of the morning. Discovering this piece of him was like discovering unchangeable legacy right in my own person—it is what I will carry forever and what I will pass on.
It almost makes up for not having enough time.
When I started dating Mike, there was one day when I racing off to go out with him for the day and my Dad said to me “be careful, Tricia” and I laughed because I thought he meant to be careful in one way; then he quickly told me “be careful with Mike’s heart.”
My Dad adored my husband; he loved him and trusted him. He shared stories with Mike he never shared with me. He prepared Mike for life without him, too. And Mike loved my Dad, too, I think nearly as much as I did.
When I look at my husband now—watching the kind of father he is with our kids—I see him doing all those things my Dad did; but in his way. He makes memories and tells bad jokes. He prepares them for life after childhood. He opens himself up to each of them. When Lily showed interest in music—Mike discovered bands with her. When Chloe shows her interest in fixing things, Mike gets her to help him build and fix everything. When Nicholas picks up a new sport, Mike is right there, practicing and showing and talking it through.
And he does crazy things like building the world’s biggest cup of lemonade for his daughter—and for all children battling cancer.
The love he has for our kids takes my breath away sometimes.
He does what my Dad did for me and reveals to them that unchangeable legacy that lives inside each of our children. They know, wherever they go, whatever they do, whomever comes after, they will always have their wonderful Dad with them.
Happy Father’s Day to my Dad and to my children’s Dad. The love you gave and give is eternal and for that the world is so blessed
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