I am my father’s daughter.
No statement could make me more proud. I adored him, and he was my favorite person in the whole world. My life was shattered when he died and I haven’t quite been the same since. That was 19 years ago, more than half of my life.
As I get older, I realize that he left little pieces of himself behind. Lots of little pieces. In me. In my children. My son Little A has my dad’s amazing crystal blue eyes. I have the same desire to constantly hug my children and tell them I love them. This habit of my dad’s used to drive me insane, but now I would give anything for one more bear hug. His absence makes me want to grab my children and never let them go. I want them to know how much I love them – always. It is my mission to make them understand.
My dad was also a really funny guy. He was caring and loving, but super funny. He was the dad who would walk into my bathroom as I was curling my bangs (yes, I just said curling my bangs) and say casually, “Did you know that xx% of ninth-graders are sexually active?” and then stare at me dramatically to see my reaction. He wasn’t going to let me get away with anything and I knew it. This is probably why I was too terrified to kiss a boy until I was 15.
Although I was never sure exactly where it was located, I knew there was a shotgun in the house. I did not fear for my own life, but really no boy was safe if they were near me.
Except for Ryan – my best friend. Ryan possessed some mythical power over him and was immune to my dad’s intimidation methods. My dad adored him and vice versa. It was the strangest thing you’ve ever seen. But thank goodness, because I don’t think I would have survived high school without Ryan. He still keeps me sane. My dad was my buddy, but he made sure that I knew he was my dad first and foremost. The line was clear. He told me about the birds and the bees while we were shooting hoops. That’s not something you forget. I will probably do the same thing with my boys. Actually, I think I might let Mr. Aggie handle that one if possible.
I know that when someone dies, it’s really easy to put them up on a pedestal and make it seem like they were a saint. My dad wasn’t a saint. He was not perfect. But he was a great guy. The night he found out his stomach cancer was terminal, he was given six months to live. I sat up with him all night talking. He told me story after story and we laughed and we cried. Neither of us slept at all. We knew it was the beginning of the end. While my friends went to senior prom, I stayed home and hung out with my dad. By that point, we knew he only had a few weeks left. It’s amazing how fast you can grow up when you have to.
The biggest fear I have now is that my memories will fade. He was so handsome. I don’t want to forget the sound of his voice or his laugh. I worry that I will forget the little nuggets of wisdom he used to share with me. Or the little private jokes we shared. We used to dance together in the kitchen. I miss that so much. Now I do that with my boys and I think of my dad. They get embarrassed just like I used to.
I had the honor of holding my dad’s hand as he took his last breath. I was 18. He was 42. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him. I am who I am because of the things we went through together. I think he would be proud of the person I am and the mother I am. I give lots of hugs. I snuggle. I give tons of kisses. I dance in the kitchen. I tell the people I love how much I love them.
I AM my father’s daughter.