My Love for My Father
I grew up as a daddy’s girl. I adored my father and was blessed to spend time with him as a little girl, teenager, and adult woman despite my parents’ divorce. With all of his faults, my mom never spoke ill of him. He called me “Tulip”. He took me fishing. Duchess, my confidant and bonus mom, sent me with him to happy hour on Fridays. I got a Shirley temple and fried mushrooms at TGIF (TGI Friday’s) in downtown Shreveport, LA. Little did I know I was his chaperone. I just thought I was the luckiest girl in town. My dad used to visit each of his children once a semester at their school for lunch. It was a real treat to have him join me in my high school – he was tall and handsome and always wore a well-tailored suit. So, everyone would whisper as he entered the cafeteria and found me, and we sat together for lunch on those occasions.
Even as adults, we would hang out and go to events, parties, etc. He knew one dance – the jitterbug/two step – but he would adjust it to look like the salsa, the merengue, the foxtrot, you name it. I remember one party, we cleared the dance floor and by the time he swung me around at the end of the song, landed on bended knee where I promptly sat, and the crowd burst into spontaneous applause. We just laughed and laughed. When I was in love with a boy, he’d say “as long as you like him, I like him”. He’d sometimes sit me down and tell me about myself with a stern warning about the potential consequences of what I was doing. “I am telling you this,” he’d say, “because I love you and I don’t want anything to happen to you.” I would reassure him that I knew what I was doing, and it would all work out. I was my father’s daughter and had a big dose of the “I know everything” syndrome.
When I moved to Cleveland in 1998, my intention was to be close to family so my children would know my father and Duchess and have their own connection and stories of their grandfather. I had no idea that I needed that connection. And when my father realized that I was running a real business that made money and I could pay my bills and feed my children, he was so proud. And I felt so affirmed as an adult, an entrepreneur, and a woman. Hearing him say “good job” was so empowering. It was different from my mother’s “I am proud of you”. And when my dad passed away, I felt at peace. Primarily because I had so many good memories, so much love between us, everything we needed to say had been said.
So, this month, I want to encourage you to remember the men in your life, your father, uncle, cousin, spouse, friend, or mentor who affirmed your being and share those good memories with your children or a young person in your life. Give them the story and example of what positive men can look like. And if you don’t have that, use my father’s story as an example and the standard for what is possible. Let’s raise up our positive male relationships and honor those men who made a difference in our lives. Those men who loved us unconditionally.