Tell Me About Your Father

Asking someone to talk about her father sounds all a bit Freudian to me, and fittingly, I wrote about my dad and Jane Fonda a while ago.  But it’s Leap Day, and if I truly had more time – an obligation-free extra day – I’d want to bring my kids to see their grandparents.   My son and my father have a special relationship; no one else exists for either of them when they’re together.  I want more of that.  I want my kids to know my dad and to appreciate him as I never did when I was their age.  We take so many people for granted in our lives – until we no longer can. The last few days have made that increasingly clear. So, here’s a tribute to the living.

My father, mein Papi, is the kind of father whose raised voice didn’t appear too often, but when it did – Oh Boy – you knew you were in deep trouble. This dad raised three girls – not one of them a soccer player or chess player – and shared a bathroom with them and went through adolescence and proms and hickeys and college applications with them.  Never once did we feel like he would have preferred a boy.

My dad sang us songs in German to help us sleep, and he always left the door open just a bit so we wouldn’t be in total darkness.  He has always taken his religion seriously, and was offended when I tumbled out the front door calling out “O Mighty Isis!” in imitation  of a morning show (a precursor to my love of all things fantastical). “Only God is Almighty,” he explained.  And I, in my blooming obnoxiousness of twelve years, answered, “I said O mighty, not ALL mighty.” I missed his point entirely.

This is the same dad, a published scientist and holder of many patents, who took us into his office on the weekends to photocopy our hands (and sometimes faces) and color them in.  This dad wrote long letters on our birthdays that gave us confidence and comfort as we entered our awkward years. And that same dad told me natural beauty shouldn’t be covered up by make-up – and I believed him.  This dad warned me that my mother would notice the blonde dye in my brown hair despite the cute hat I had suddenly decided to wear as a Cover-Up-the-Dye-Job Fashion Statement. Later, two or three years later, he is the dad who carried me into the house – drunk and slurring – saying “I know. I know,” as I claimed it was all his fault that I had gotten smashed and vomited in several driveways.

This is the same dad who spoke for many, many long moments at my wedding – about how he and my mom tried (and tried and kept trying!) to get pregnant for eleven years before adopting me.  The one time, he said, that he felt like punching someone was when someone asked, “Will you give her back now?” My mom was pregnant with my younger sister, and this person obviously didn’t “get” adoption.

At the time, I never appreciated his patience, his calm demeanor in the midst of the rabble-rousing that existed in our home.  As a pre-teen, I read and then lost the long, thoughtful letters he wrote on my birthday.  As a teenager, I resented that he took my mother’s side when I was clearly in the right.  As a college student, I thought I knew it all (didn’t I?) about world politics and past wars despite his having lived through being bombed and being truly hungry and actually living history.

And now, I miss him.  I miss having someone tell me what’s right so I can rebel against it. I want my kids to experience that quiet patience, because they certainly won’t learn it from me.  Instead of hunkering down in the comfort of home, I want to make more trips to Opa and Omi, despite the upheaval that the nester and homebody in me detests. So, here’s to honoring our parents and loved ones with time, attention, and effort even when it’s not a Hallmark approved day of adoration.

Now excuse me. I  have to go make some travel plans.

edit: Eulogy for My Father

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About That Unique* Weblog

Adjusting to the car culture, dealing with leaving a career I love, and spouting off along the way.
This entry was posted in Parenthood, People are Good, Things I love and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

69 Responses to Tell Me About Your Father

  1. Erica M says:

    I am so glad your dad was the inspiration for your linking up with yeah write. What a lovely post. Weird how the world is made up of all kinds of people including those who think babies can be returned after their original purpose of being a baby has expired. Thanks for linking up, and please enjoy your time with us this week.

  2. This is beautiful. And your dad is nothing sort of a hero in an age when we need to recognize true heroes… people who live their lives with patience, love, and understanding. Your kids are lucky to have him.

  3. Christina says:

    What a nice post, Kristin! And a great photo of your dad and the kids–you can see how B. adores him!

    • Thanks, Christina. I went looking for a photo to match with the post and came across this one — I don’t know how it didn’t end up in the year-end calendar (which is my go-to grandparent gift for the holidays!)

  4. Aww, you just made me cry! A very loving post to your dad. BTW I love the Mighty Isis reference. I have them all on DVD if you want to come over to watch 😉

  5. Carla says:

    Could you please, pretty please, write a book already?!

  6. Kerstin says:

    Beautifully written. There is nothing like having a special person in your and your children’s lives. My Opa was just like that, I wish my kids would have known him.

  7. Kate says:

    This is so emotionally heart felt that I am now crying after a few chuckles and nodding to myself in complete understanding as my father was similar in his ways! This is a beautiful tribute!

  8. Jamie says:

    Dads, and especially Grandpas, are such special people. I hope your dad gets a chance to read this.

  9. kuttyhunk76 says:

    Our dad is the best 🙂

  10. stephanie says:

    Sweet. My father was the antithesis of yours…so how fortunate you are, but more so your kids to have that relationship. Lovely tribute.

  11. Wow! This is beautiful! He sounds like a perfect combination of strong and gentle, What a wonderful example of what a man should be. thanks for sharing your story.

  12. Lenore Diane says:

    Your gravatar is Word Girl and you entered the house saying O Mighty Isis. (I had her necklace by the way. At least, I had a necklace that looked like her necklace.) Isis rocked.
    I applaud your tribute to the living. Sadly many wait to write these wonderful words after the person is lost. I hope you will share this with your Dad, it reminds me of birthday letters. Seems you were paying attention, eh?

    Congrats on linking up with Yeah Write! It is a great community. Your post is excellent!

    • You are the second person to get excited about Isis; do you also have the full series on DVD? Because if not, I say we sneak into her house and snag it!

      And yeah – I was paying attention. And now he knows it!

  13. How sweet is this piece? What a lovely story about a fabulous father.

  14. Dreasom says:

    Great job of capturing just what an amazing man and father our dad is. I am grateful for him every day and so glad my kids get to bask in their Opa’s love. And I’m also very grateful they didn’t give you back when I came along 🙂

  15. What a gorgeous, heartfelt and honest post. Your dad sounds awesome.

  16. Aww! I wish I could buy you a bus, train, or plane ticket right now. Sweet tribute to your dad. I love the part where he nearly throttles the person who asked if they were going to give you back.

  17. Beautiful piece of writing. Made my day.

  18. Katie says:

    Beautiful. You’ve made me want to go hug my dad. Tell him how much I appreciate and love him. And I believe I will. Very sweet tribute. Thanks for sharing.

  19. chosenchaosblog says:

    If you start a visit campaign, I will gladly contribute. I am always so touched by good Dad stories. I don’t have my own but know that my girls are getting theirs. It makes the world a better place. Girls need more Dad’s like yours and the one mine have.

  20. kvetchmom says:

    Oh my goodness, this made me cry. Such a wonderful, wonderful father you have. Yes, please visit him soon. XO

  21. Elaine says:

    Oh wow, I almost started crying. I think mostly because I have a pretty amazing Dad too. WONDERFUL post full of amazing memories and love. SO. MUCH. LOVE. That’s just excellent in my book. 🙂

  22. Ninja Mom says:

    Perfection, babe. We are flying my MIL out for spring break as a birthday present (her birthday is, wow—look at the time, today). Because you’re right that the time is now to capitalize on these fundamental relationships.

    You’ve done beautiful work here. Thanks.

  23. XLMIC says:

    You have a spectacular dad…and rewarded him with the opportunity to be an amazing grandpa 🙂 Spend as much time as you can with him…nothing can be more precious.

  24. mamamzungu says:

    What a beauitufl tribute! And I can totally see the closeness of the relationship between your son and your father in that picture. It’s priceless!

  25. What a fabulous tribute. My dad is my hero. Not in the caped crusader, jump tall buildings in a single bound way. In the everyday loves me unconditionally, will listen to me even when he disagrees, and had a way of making me feel like I can do anything. And he’s building the same relationship with my children. We are so blessed.

  26. Your Dad is one of the quiet heroes whom I adore learning about; my Dad was the same.

    Yep. Make those travel plans and get your kids to see him every chance you get; life is short. Too short, sometimes.

    Darlene

  27. So wonderful that you had someone like your father in your life. Dads are vital to the development of children and too often are ignored. Sharing your beautiful, meaningful, and heartfelt tribute is a great way to remind us that dads matter. I’m glad you shared it on this very ordinary extra day.

  28. Your dad sounds like such a wonderful, smart and thoughtful man! What a great post, and great idea to write about him and preserve your memories of him. I was planning on writing a post about my dad this week. But it was about the time he got in a fight with a raccoon and fell in a pond. Ahem.
    Also? I was a huge Shazam & Isis fan back in the day!

  29. georgettegilmore says:

    Kristin,

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful living tribute to your great father. I knew someone great must have raised you, because you’re top notch. You made me cry, in the way that feels so good.

  30. Anna says:

    love this. wish we had some of your dad’s patience at our house, too. maybe he needs to guest post his advice?

  31. Giving kids a sense of where they fit into the generational expanse helps them feel grounded, gives them a sense of history (even before they know what “history” is), gives them someone to talk to when their own parents simply won’t do. How lovely that you know enough to praise him now, rather than after the fact, which is what happens way too often. Sigh.

  32. Rachel says:

    I’ve been thinking about this since I read it. Wondering if it provoked such emotion in me because I have such a soft spot in my heart for Kristin or for good daddies? Either way it makes my sight blurry everytime I think of it. Gratitude for good people who find and treasure the best in others, and gratitude for fathers who work to become humble, sensitive fathers.

    It also makes me want to invite your dad over for a BBQ and listen to raising-girls stories (with an emphasis on his first born). I guess I’d probably invite you too :).

    • He was an expert raiser-of-girls. When you told me about #3, I immediately thought about the similarities between your family and mine growing up. That’s pretty much where the similarities end, of course…but three girls is pretty similar in many, many ways. Good luck, Davey! And good luck, Rachel! 😀

  33. Pingback: Not Taken for Granted | This Weblog is Unique. Just Like They All Are.

  34. Pingback: yeah write #46 winners |yeah write

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