It’s been a minute since I could ask my dad for advice. Actually, it’s been 11,037,600 minutes, give or take a minute or two…I think about him everyday. This time of year, it’s more. I guess that’s expected.
Dad taught me many things; how to love, how to work hard, how to take care of everyone, how to dream and how to forgive. There’s many lessons I learned, either through his words or by his example.
“Have no regrets, only lessons learned.”
“Don’t judge a book by its cover, some beauty isn’t on the outside. Get to know someone. You’ll always be surprised. “
“Take care of those who need it most. “
“Say your prayers.”
“Give all your love, you’ll get it back”
“Always use your manners. Say please, thank you and bless you.”
“Remember I always love you.”
Then there are the lessons I learned from his example. When he thought I wasn’t watching him, I was. And I learned about the kind of person I wanted to be. And many of these lessons didn’t impact me until later in life. And once they hit me, he wasn’t here for me to tell him…dad, you were right and I hope you are proud.
Work hard, then work harder. This man had three jobs. THREE. to raise two girls almost completely on his own. The sacrifices he made are staggering. I see them now and they make me ache. I’m ashamed for how petulant I was, or how I took it for granted. As a parent, I get it, but damn…I get it.
Never stop learning. When I was young, he went to night school to better himself. He used to take me with him. I’m contemplating this path, heading back to school to better myself. I don’t have young children at home like he did, and I’m still hesitant. He wasn’t. He always wanted to be better. I wish he knew that he was the best.
Home isn’t a place, it’s the people. Dad moved us around a lot. And each place was home because of him. It was the love that he brought to those four walls. It was the genuine happiness that he felt because he loved us. He was happy to be around us. That’s all that mattered.
Be a lady. Act like you think you should be treated and don’t let anyone treat you like less. Leave something to the imagination and don’t be a whore.
When you find your love and passion in life, hang on tight. This one, he taught me, only it wasn’t because that’s what he did…it’s the opposite of what he did. He let the love of his life slip out of his life because he put me and my sister ahead of her. He thought they’d make it, but they didn’t. And when he died, he died loving her from afar. He died alone. And this hurts me in my soul. Because he was “Daddy” all the time, he lost who the man was, he lost the focus on the future, of who would be with him when we grew up and got our own lives. Who would hold his hand in his golden years. I will NEVER forgive myself for taking that from him. Yes, I was young, but fuck…we knew better. I knew better.
Dad, I know I’m not living the life you saw for me. I know you would be shaking your head, smiling and shrugging your shoulders, but you would be proud of me. Things would be so different and yet, the same as they are. I wish you were here with me now, so I could tell you, so you could share this with me. So I could take care of you, just like you took care of me. So I could tell you I love you and I’m sorry.
I get it. I see it. I heed your advice and know how right you were. I miss you. I’m trying like hell to be the woman, the person, you thought I would be. I stumble, but I do what you taught me, I pick myself up and try again.
I am my fathers daughter. Proudly and unapologetically.