Since Father's day just passed, I'm sharing a monologue I've crafted about some of my observations of father/daughter relationships. All experiences are from the daughter's perspective.
Father. Papa. Dad. Do they all mean the same thing? I’d say no. From my experiences and observations, the best one of them all is “dad.” Dads get their hands dirty, dads bring home the bacon, dads call their daughter “beautiful,” dads carry a spirit that lives on, long after his vessel is expired.
I can't remember her name, so I’ll call her “Chica,” but a girl once told me about a psychic she consulted for information about her deceased father. She had questions about the state of his spirit. Was he resting peacefully? Did he make quiet, unknown visits to Chica and her family? Was he scared when he died? Chica proceeded to tell me, with a surprising amount of emotion, that the psychic said her father’s spirit never appears to her because he knows he hurt her by leaving this earth very unexpectedly. Chica’s face brightened to an almost neon pink color. The blemishes on her face stood out even more, now appearing like red ink blots across her cheeks. I could see, actually, I could feel the loss she felt for her dad. It was a kind of sorrow that drifted naturally from her body into the atmosphere. She carried an old pain, one that pangs when disrupted with pieces of the truth. I knew this when Chica told be about early memories with her dad. How he played childish games with her like "got your ear" or "got your nose." And about the time he taught her to swim in her “swimmies” and how he cooked while listening to music playing from his boom box. He even wrote beautiful poems and short stories in French. He was French Canadian. It’s been fifteen years since he passed away, and Chica still has the pages of her dad’s work. Now yellowed and frayed, she has the keepsake tucked away somewhere in a paisley printed box. She reads them from time to time when she feels alone and afraid.
Through These Green Eyes
I’m envious of this girl's relationship with her dad. How she missed him, never spoke poorly of him to others. I wonder how her memories could be so amazing. Was she acting? She must have been lying for sure. I’m not being a crabby patty. My accusations of her dishonesty stem from my barely full bucket of fatherly love. I mean, really, what did I have? Of course a couple of soft memories float along all the grooves in my brain. But the darker, harsher recollections stay stagnant, fixed like those statues made of stone outside of museums.
O, Sandy Corvette
My girl Sandy once told me and a group of our colleagues that her dad was her best friend. He passed away when she was fifteen and now, at thirty, she still isn't over it. She said, "I'll never get over it." She spoke those words lethargically, like with each breath another breath was taken away. Sandy's kind of a firecracker. She thinks of crazy things then usually does them. So when she told me about wanting to get a nose job, I believed her. To my surprise, she changed her mind and decided not to trim her nose with plastic surgery. When I asked why, she replied, “When I look in the mirror, and I see this nose, I see my dad.”
In another conversation, Sandy shared an experience she had with spirits. It happened shortly after her father passed. In the middle of the night, her dog walked slowly up to the front door of their home. He then calmly sat in front of gazing up, as if he were looking at someone through the door. Sandy said she was unafraid when she witnessed the weird actions of her pup. She knew he was looking up at the spirit of her father, who was perhaps stopping by to make sure she was safe.
My Jade GemStone
Sandy's best friend was a man who protected her and openly showed his affection.. She must be special I thought. Better yet, he must have been a special man. He was a dad.
Who protected me? I guess mom did. But dad’s protection is like a shield that can make any girl feel safe. It’s no wonder I walk around here with some kind of guard up. I always get the feeling someone’s “out to get me.” Maybe it’s because when people did “get me” there were no wings wrapped around me to ward off the evil souls that meant harm. No angel wings.
Someone Like Her
At a team potluck, Brandy once told us, with her mouth filled with food, the story of how her husband proposed to her. He took her dad to the jewelry store where he bought her engagement ring. Her then-fiancé made sure that one of the store associates recorded him asking Brandy's dad for her hand in marriage. Brandy said she had no idea what the men in her life were up to. It all happened “down the Ocean.” That’s Ocean City, MD. She was enjoying an afternoon of jet skiing with family members while the ring was being purchased. I glanced down at her left hand and noticed the ring. It was pretty large, beautiful. It was a ring for a woman adored. I can’t remember what she said about the actually proposal. Between my extreme disinterest on the event and the annoying sound of her voice through the process of mastication, I completely tuned everything out. I was focused on my plate of food. Actually, I focused on getting more pasta salad with bacon chunks in it.
But Brandy wanted to make sure she told her story and everyone heard it. She kept eating, and talking, and waving her hands to exaggerate certain points. “I just tell this story all the time, because it’s kind of, like a way to honor my dad.” Her dad had accepted her husband’s request. And then he became terminally ill, and then he was gone forever.
Envy with a Side of Carats
Are you kidding me? He did all of that? Sometimes I wonder why people really care about the formalities of getting married and if it really matters when most people end up divorced or in shitty marriages. When Brandy's dad became extremely sick with cancer, she lived at home to help take care of him. And when he died before the wedding, she was crushed. Heart broken. He was supposed to give her away; walker her down the aisle. Everything had been set up so perfectly. And then he was gone.
I think I’d be offended if my boyfriend asked my dad for my hand in marriage. My dad has not earned that privilege. Dads who have that privilege are dads that tuck little girls in at night, comb their hair, help with their homework, ask about boys, see them off to college, encourage them to chase dreams… I’m running out of breath. Dads make daughters a priority; they do not treat them like another task at the end of a 12-hour day. Dads always talk up their girls; they’d never put them down.
Blessed is the girl who is loved by her dad. The little things build big memories, memories that tell us what “dad” is. I wonder if a psychic can tell me more about my dad. Maybe she can unveil uncomfortable truths about his past. Had someone hurt him? Was he neglected? Then his lack of affection will make sense. Or maybe no one can tell me. Although I do believe someday I will be able to accurately tell the story of my familial dysfunction. I'll find solace in the ability to answer all of my whys. And then at family gatherings and at my wedding, I'll think of my dad. I'll cry for my dad.