Yes, I realize Father’s Day was last Sunday, but my dad’s birthday was yesterday and I figured after all he’s done for me, he deserved a day and a blog post all to himself.
Having a birthday on the summer solstice is quite convenient for a couple of reasons. First, it’s easy to remember because the beginning of summer is usually something people celebrate more than the beginning of winter, at least in Iowa.
Second, it’s more likely Dad will be able to spend the day doing the kind of things he enjoys doing, like fishing, watching the Cubs play baseball, or having a patio party with friends and family.
And third, it’s the driving force coercing me out of the comfort of my bed and into my writing room to post this while the day and my dad are fresh in my mind. I swear I’m channeling the collective energy of all the midnight revelers dancing in the moonlight as they usher in the summer.
Whatever the case, it’s well past my bedtime. However, the words will not wait so I will release them and maybe we’ll all sleep better for it.
I would like to get something clear from the get-go. I’ve never been Daddy’s Girl, Daddy’s Little Princess, or even the first name that came to mind when he addressed me. Being the youngest, he often remembered my name only after reciting my sister and brother’s names first.
Granted, I often got him so flustered or irritated that addressing me in an ever increasing crescendo of Kellie-Kendall- PENNY was the most effective way to let us all know I was in trouble.
While we each had our ways of sending this gentle giant over the edge, I was particularly good at it. Especially during church, I am told.
As anyone with siblings can attest, it’s not necessarily the one who started it who suffers the consequences. It’s the one who gets caught. Since there were three of us, it was usually two against one, and I was often the sacrificial lamb or black sheep.
I’m not saying my dad didn’t have reason to suspect me. I did my very best to challenge him throughout my childhood. Not intentionally, mind you. I was just incredibly independent. “Because I’m your dad and I said so,” might have worked on the other two, but it seldom worked on me.
Even though I was the last on the family food chain, I was the first to try things that I considered to be brilliant, bold, and daring. My dad didn’t see it that way .
Once in a fit of frustration he said in a loud voice, “You are the most independent woman I’ve ever met!” To this day I consider it a compliment, although when I’m walking three dogs and Scooter exhibits his independent nature and leaves the pack to discover disgusting things to proudly bring back to us, I begin to see my dad’s point.
This is the thing with dads and parents in general. They are wiser than we ever give them credit for and right more often than we care to admit.
Even though we live our whole lives in anticipation of their approval or in reaction to their rules, there is no denying the indelible influence they have on who we become, how we behave, even how we look.
I’ll never forget one particularly bad blind date that ended in a drive by drop-off . The guy had never met me but had met my dad. The first words out of his mouth were, “You look just like your dad.“
My dad is approximately 6’3″, 280 lbs, and balding. Although my dad is handsome to me, no woman with any sense of sexiness left after succumbing to the humiliation of a blind date is going to want to be compared to those height, weight, and hair restrictions.
I knew at that point, the rest of the night was pointless. Seriously, men who might be reading this: Unless your date’s dad has just been named Sexiest Man Alive, avoid that line. And the drive by drop off. Walk your date to the door at least.
Okay, so before you begin to think daddy issues are responsible for me not getting engaged until now, let me reassure you it’s more the independence thing. When the independence thing had run its course and I moved back to the Midwest, I became fiercely protective of my parents.
Midlife has a way of softening judgments and expectations not only of ourselves but especially our elders. When options begin to contract instead of expand, and there are more exits than entrances, there is a certain amount of grace we learn to extend to others. For me, this began at home.
After years of being the yin to my dad’s yang, the “heck, yes!” to his “heavens, no!“, the left to his right, the open to his closed, I find myself appreciating the middle space we can meet in now.
I used to believe my dad would never understand me, let alone admit he had something to do with creating me. But my mom told me how once he was busily bragging me up to strangers, telling them his daughter had written a book. Up to that point, I wasn’t sure he knew what a big deal getting a book published was to me.
Then there was the day I decided to temporarily set my writing dream aside to take the respectable job I have now. On our way to Maquoketa to look for a house my dad said, “This is going to be really hard for you, isn’t it?”
My free spirit heart melted as I realized I had been living the dream for all of us. My dad had his share of dreams he had to give up in order to be responsible, respectable, and do the right thing for his family. Now he was witnessing me make the same choice.
The happy ending to this story is I’m now writing again while holding down a job and enjoying a family of my own with friends and animals that supply me with blogging material on a regular basis.
I suppose if Bob would suggest I remind him of my dad, I’d take no offense to that. After all, my dad is kind, intelligent, generous, and lovable. And he can say his daughter dedicated this blog post to him, even though I suspect he may not know what a blog is.
What about you? Who’s your daddy? Share if you dare in the comments below. Or hop on over to my new work-in-progress blogsite at www.pennyplautz.com.