#ThursdayThoughts: A letter to the first man I ever Loved (A Father's Day Tribute)

ThursdayThoughts:  Father’s Day Tribute

fathersday1

As a child, he was the man who taught me how to ride a bike, how to drive, the man who terrorized my dates as a teenager and the man who always made things better with Ice Cream.  He’s the dad that would take us on “family trips” to the clock museum and railroad museum.  Those road trips are legendary! LOL.    He is the dad that always had the camera at every one of my school events and graduations!   He’s the man I’ve called my dad since I was 6 or 7.  He’s the only father I’ve ever known.  I didn’t know my biological father.  In fact, I met him at his funeral, when his family decided to “find me” at the home I’d been in my entire life in my early 20s. 

I’m the product of a blended family and the daughter of a man who never treated me like a step child or ever referred to me as one.  I’m one of his daughters.   As a young child, I thought he was the best! He was so much fun!    He always took us on little fun days out.  At the time, I figured it was just his nature, but now that I’m older, I realized we (my brothers and I) were going on dates! It was the only way he could date my mom sometimes because she was single with limited childcare options.  (My dad was going to spend some time with my mom…BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY! LOL).   We would go to Buckingham Fountain, the beach or to the park to play Frisbee, while my parents would chill and chat under a tree. He would take us to get ice cream or to the movies and allowed us to get whatever we wanted.    Who knew we were part of their courtship and a budding romance?  He didn’t have a car when he met my mom, so he would ride his bike from where he lived in Lincoln Park to the south side and back before he would have my mom driving to come pick him up.  My dad was big on stuff like that. It’s why he never allowed me to take his car to go and pick up a guy or let men honk the horn if they were coming to take me on a date.  If you tried that, my dad would let you have it.  He was strict when it came to me and as a teenager; we bumped heads as a result.  Now that I’m older I appreciate him so much because he was my “protector” even when I didn’t want him to be

Mom & Dad!

Mom & Dad!

My dad is “Old School.”  He is the kind of man that believes in hard work, sacrifice and perseverance.  He holds to old school ideals of providing for and protecting his family.  He takes immense pride in that.   He is a man of great integrity and high moral fiber, and he is unwavering in his core beliefs.  As a teenager, I was coming into my independence, forming my ideals and beliefs.  Honestly, my dad and I clashed about a lot of different things.   Growing up I always felt my dad was “too old fashioned” and stuck in traditional gender roles.  I wanted to mow the grass and shovel snow! (Go figure!)  Now I know he was only showing me love the best way he knew how.   He wasn’t like my mom.  When my heart was broken, my mom would hold me and allow those tears to fall and let me “break.”    My dad would be the one who would later say, “You want some ice cream?”   We bonded over sweets and desserts. It was during those moments when he’d drop “life gems” or his words of wisdom when it came to dealing with men and life.  It was his way of letting me know; I was going to be ok. My heart was going to heal, and I was strong.  Sometimes my dad was strict in his love.  As a young adult, I was hospitalized for a respiratory infection and was screaming in pain when they were inserting my IV. My dad leaned over and told me to “suck it up.”  I had to get through this to get better.  Sometimes my dad is a “straight no chaser kinda man.”  I guess that’s why I tend to spend time with people who are unapologetically honest.  Even when we disagree, I know my dad was always telling me “his truth.”  He was real and authentically himself at all times.

As an adult, when I suffered my biggest heartbreak, the end of my marriage, my dad once again was my protector.  He brought me some ice cream, and I cried.  My ex-husband left screaming that I’d always be alone and no man would ever want me because I had three of his kids.  I was crying and telling my dad this, and he laughed and said, “You see your mom? She had three children when I met her.  I wanted your mom, and it didn’t matter how many kids she had. I loved her, and one day you’ll meet the man who will love you so much that he won’t care how many kids you have because you are that special.”  He said it in a way that made me believe him.  It was the moment I started to find my “self” again.  I was walking around, feeling unworthy and sorry for myself and my dad essentially let me know, you better remember who you are and stand in that.  Get up and keep it moving!

I always say I get my heart, sense of empathy and compassion from my mom but I get my warrior spirit from my dad.  My dad is a fighter, and he’s no quitter.   My dad worked his butt off every single day.  I rarely saw him rest.  He is a classically trained actor with degrees in psychology and theater.  He is the man who loved his family so much that he made sure he held down a full-time job to provide for all of us but also would pursue acting at the same time because it was his passion.  I saw my dad burning the candle at both ends so much, providing for his family and pursuing his passion.   He sacrificed a lot for all of us.  He’s a huge reason why I think I’m doing the same thing now in my life. Working full time and raising my children while pursuing my dreams of writing, blogging and creating.   He’s the blueprint of what hard work looks like.  He taught me about having a strong work ethic and a determined spirit.

Even now as an adult, my dad and I remain very different and share diverse views of the world.  However, my dad’s support and love are unwavering and unconditional. He is the most consistent man I know in my life.  From the moment my marriage ended, I began to see my dad differently.  I watched how he supported my mom; I watched him take care of her, continue to date her and show her love and affection.  I watched him each year; try to outdo himself on her birthdays, holidays, and mother’s day.  Making my mom feel appreciated and loved is a priority for my dad.   I watched him with adult eyes now, with my siblings, with his grandkids and my heart smiles.  My children are so fortunate to have him.  I watched him as he taught my son how to tie his first tie, and answered my son’s questions about growing up, puberty, and hygiene.  He is precious with my daughter, she’s his angel, and I watch them share their favorite ice cream now.   History repeats itself as they bond over sweets now too!  I look at him on benches at my kids sporting events, screaming at the top of his lungs cheering for them.   In my life, he continues to be the man who protects me the most.   He shows me how much he loves me in little ways.  He makes sure my oil is changed, or he would call the oil place before I came to tell them what to use on my car because he knew I wouldn’t remember.  He’s taken the time to show me how to check my tire pressure and how to work the tire changing equipment that was in my car for years that I never knew how to use. When I moved into my first place after my divorce, my dad would stop by on his way home from work and wipe the snow off my car and head home. He never said anything. I’d just come outside, and my car would be wiped clean.  My kids were young at the time, and it was one less thing I had to deal with during my morning rush.  He offers to take my kids to the barber shop because he knows I hate it.  When I’m completely overbooked and have children in different parts of the city doing different things, my dad offers to pick one up.  It’s those little things that my dad does that continue to show me I am loved.   It’s not just me; however, he’s like that with everyone.  He’s generous with his time and selfless with his help.

So here I am, grown, divorced and navigating this dating scene. During my teenage years, I fought my dad regularly when now I realize; he was just teaching me how to recognize “the wolves.”    I’m smarter in love right now because of my dad.   It is because of his love that I knew I was in a relationship that didn’t honor me and needed to leave.  It’s because of the love he showed me and the love he showed my mother that I could recognize relationships that aren’t good for me a lot quicker than I used to.  It is because of him that even if my heart is broken, I know deep down, I’m always going to be alright eventually.  The man I used to debate with all during my teenage years is now the standard in which I hold every single man in my life too. It’s a standard few have been able to reach.  My dad made it hard for those men quite frankly.  I’m not easily impressed because my dad impressed me years ago with the love he showed his family and the woman in his life.  My dad is the example of how a man loves honors and respects a woman.

So this Father’s Day I want to say Thank you! Thank you for being the head and patriarch of this family. Thank you for always leading us with God’s wisdom and instruction. Thank you for loving my mom the way you do, thus creating a loving environment for all of us to grow and thrive in.  Thank you for blending two families together giving me an amazing sister and extended family. Thank you for setting the example of manhood and fatherhood for my brothers, sister and myself.  Thank you for accepting me for who I am even when you don’t necessarily agree with my views. Thank you for never being too proud to say, I’m sorry when you know you have hurt my feelings.  Thank you for showing your imperfections so I can accept and correct my own.   Thank you for never accepting mediocrity from me and calling me out on it when you knew I could be better. Thank you for teaching me how to fight through adversity with courage.  Thank you for loving me in such a way that anything less than by anyone else is unacceptable. Thank you for your integrity, consistency, and honesty.   Thank you for showing me what a strong work ethic looks like.  Thank you for encouraging me always to be creative and to embrace what’s inside of me. Thank you for showing and teaching me how valuable I was so I never question my worthiness anymore.   Thank you for the love and wisdom you continue to instill in my children.  

Thank you for being more than a Father but my “Dad”…

Happy Father’s Day!!!

Your daughter, Danie