Sunday, June 19, 2011

to the best from the worst

Last night, as I passed the card aisle at Target, I confirmed to myself that, no, I didn't need to get cards because the kids love making them (Donovan even draws on a bar code on the back) and maybe I would get Joel one to say I loved him because, after all, he wasn't MY dad...ohhhh...CRAP!

I totally forgot to get my dad a Father's Day card. I am the WORST.

I walked, as if in a daze, and promptly checked out and drove home. I think I forgot half of the things on my list. But in that daze, I thought about what I could possibly say that would measure up to my dad.

Then I flashed back to an hour before when I was on my hands and knees mopping the kitchen floor. Joel and Ainsleigh were sitting on the family room couch and he was showing her the photos he had taken at the car show he and Donovan had just been to. Joel was explaining how to apply different filters and Ainsleigh, to her credit, sounded genuinely interested and was trying different things he suggested.

I remember my dad explaining some idea - maybe it was about space, or the body, or nature - and loving it. Partly it was because I liked learning stuff, but more because I was spending time with my dad. He was talking to me like a regular person. And he seemed to be ENJOYING it.

I guess the highest compliment I could pay my dad, is that I love him so much that I wanted the same for my own children. I wanted someone who would be the calming force in their lives. I wanted someone who enjoyed playing. I wanted someone who would explain ideas and read books and go on walks. I wanted someone who, when asked for something by their child, would respond, "What did Mom say?" not because he couldn't make up his own mind, but to signal that a) they were a united force, and b) he was aware of the "if mom says no, I'll just go ask dad" game.

I wanted someone who would love me, and show it, even if the kids pretended to be weirded out by hugging and (gasp) kissing in front of them. We used to groan when my parents would be affectionate, but I'm not sure why. I think I thought I had to act grossed out when we'd get on a ride at Disneyland and my dad would say, "Your mom and I are going to sit in the back so we can make out."

I wanted someone who would value physical fitness. Now, my dad wasn't always a workout machine - it was something he discovered as he got older and has only ramped up as he ages, but it is inspiring. Actually, sometimes it's annoying. I mean, having your dad run faster than you when you're 5 is one thing. Having him outrun you when you're 35...oh who am I kidding, it's still pretty fantastic. He recognizes that as he gets older, he has to work extra hard to battle the effects of aging. And let me tell you, it's a battle he is clearly WINNING.

I wanted someone who would take the opportunity to educate his children. Whether it be from dissecting a frog as a family, or kindly teaching me the principle of honesty, or sitting down all of my siblings as adults to discuss the financial market and how best to invest for our future, I have loved every minute of it. Well, as in the case of the honesty, I've loved that he took the time, even if the actual lesson was somewhat painful.

My point is this: I wanted for my children the same safe, secure and loving home that I enjoyed, and I found it in Joel. I honor my dad every day with who I have as a partner. Like today, maybe someday one of Joel's daughters will forget a card. And like my dad today, Joel will laugh it off. Because they don't need a card to know their daughters think they are the greatest dad there ever was.

Happy Father's Day, Dad. Maybe I can get Donovan to help me slap on a bar code here at the end.

(Weird photos courtesy of our trip to California. Stay tuned for more sweet moments.)


PaloAltoCougar said...

Sheesh, you FORGOT to buy me a Hallmark card??? Just when I thought you couldn't possibly be more [movie adjective deleted], you go and write something like this... and totally redeem yourself!

Honestly, a child who looks up to you, who hangs on pretty much your every word, and thinks you're hot property even when you know deep down you're not all that, is perhaps the most motivating, inspiring and comforting thing a parent can have. On this Father's Day, I'm especially grateful for that. Thanks.

laura said...

If it makes you feel better, Sarah, I didn't send him a card either. So maybe we tie for worst? But clearly we can all agree that Pappy is the best.