My father married my mother when he was just 22 years old and my sister and I came along within five years. He is the epitome of a ‘girl dad’. When I was little, I looked just like him (so people told me constantly) and I was proud to hear that because I was a huge daddy’s girl. His friends used to tease him that he never had a son and he would always reply, “Don’t worry, I’ll get two sons in the future.”
Every time he picked up his keys to leave the house, I grabbed my sweater (it was chilly where I grew up) and followed him to the car. I didn’t care where he was going, all I knew was that I was going also. I never asked if I could go, I just followed him blindly out the door. The thing is, he never said go back – except for that one time. He was going out and as usual, I followed. This time I forgot my sweater so he sent me back to get it and when I got outside, he was gone. I was crushed. I still tease him about it to this day by telling him that he scarred me for life with that disappearing act.
When I was six years old, he became very ill and almost died. As I recall, he spent close to four weeks in the ICU. I remember it vividly, even though I was so young. My mother was stressed and I remember my uncle and dad’s cousin coming to help us. I remember them driving us to the hospital (2 hours away) to see him. I hated that hospital smell. To this day, I loathe going to hospitals and that may be why. Through God’s grace, he made a full recovery and I am blessed to still have him.
My father was very proud of his two daughters. He was always showing off about our achievements and I hated it. I found it embarrassing. I was an extremely shy child and I hated and still hate attention. Every time I heard him telling someone about something I had achieved I would cringe. Now that I am a parent, I get it. I have to make a concerted effort not to do that to my kids.
In daddy’s eyes we could do no wrong. Even when I was in fact doing wrong, he always believed the best about me. When I was forming the fool in my final year of high school and completely underachieved in my GCE A’Level exams, my father blamed the school. I overheard him telling my mother “She is bright; it is the school.” Thanks daddy!!! When I finished my first year of university with straight As, he turned to my mother and said “See, I told you it was the school.”
I had a fascination with cars from an early age so daddy said he would teach me to drive when I turned 12. Naturally, on my twelfth birthday I presented myself and told him I was ready for my first lesson. He laughed and told me he wasn’t crazy so there was no way he was teaching me to drive so young. I was disappointed, but as soon as I was old enough, he ensured that I got my driving lessons and taught me to change a tyre and check the oil.
My father showed me what it looked like for a man to be reliable. In grade 11, I used to attend French tutoring on Thursdays after school. My friends and I used to walk to class and my dad would pick me up afterwards. He used to work an hour and a half away from home and in those days the route home was long and winding and there were no cell phones. Every Thursday after class when I came outside, he was there waiting for me. It never occurred to me that something could cause him to be late. I was confident he would be there and he always was – on time.
When I went to university for the first time, my mom wasn’t able to come on move-in day because she had a very important meeting so my dad and I went alone. He helped me clean my room and unpack all my stuff and even made up my bed. When we had done everything, I could see him looking around for something else to do. Finally I told him, “it’s ok, you can go”. I realized that he didn’t want to leave me. He was probably worried that I wouldn’t be ok. After all, I was the baby.
Growing up, we always had frank discussions about life in general and to this day he is always full of wise advice. I used to ask him hypothetical questions about men and he always answered openly and told me the truth about men. He pointed out what red flags to look out for when choosing a life partner. My father (mother too) has a gift of being able to read people, with scary accuracy. He can see right through people and is rarely wrong. When my husband and I were dating, I had decided that if my parents disapproved of him, that would be the end of our relationship because I trust their instincts that much. Luckily for hubby, they both loved him immediately.
I don’t get to see my parents as often as I would like to because we no longer live in the same country. They have loved and supported me all my life and continue to do so. I’m extremely blessed to have them.
Fathers please don’t underestimate your importance. You are necessary and no one else can fill your role. You won’t be a perfect parent (that doesn’t exist) but be there for your kids. Love them. Show up. Be intentional. Do the best you can. They will appreciate it. Happy Father’s Day.