A few months ago, I was reading the online version of the Oprah magazine, and one article posed the question, “What would you say to your father today?” Of course, it was during the month of June when our fathers get special recognition, but it had some poignancy for me, because I cannot actually tell him.
I lost my father before I had my tenth birthday, and my son (who is named for him) is now as old as I was then. I often wonder how I would have been different had he still been around – you know how daughters can be with their fathers. I look at the young girls in my family and see how they have their fathers wrapped around their little fingers. My husband tries his best to be the disciplinarian, but after he scolds our daughter, he’s calling her for a playful bite.
And that’s one of the things that I would tell my father – that I now know, when I was disciplined, that it was done out of love, and that it was better to have my butt beaten at home by my parents than by somebody else, outside. And even though it was my mother who really did the spanking, (since some daddies would not be caught dead being the bad guy), I know he was 100% behind her.
I would thank him for my first bike – a pink Huffy model – that I didn’t even have to beg for, and which I rode until I outgrew it. I would thank him for travelling with the piece of paper that carried an outline of my foot, so he could be sure to get the correct size for the school shoes that my mother requested. I would say that I was grateful to him for giving me a love for music, and assign to him the credit for my appreciation of jazz, standards and calypsos by The Mighty Sparrow.
I would tell him I realized through him, that your life partner can also be your work partner – you don’t really need all that “space”. I would tell him that he has shown me that there is always a way to your dream, although sometimes not in the way you might at first envision it. And that transplanting ideas from another place is possible, but sometimes you’re just ahead of your time.
Naturally, he didn’t dance with me on my wedding day – but I wish that I had thought to save a seat for him, even though it would have remained empty. And although I call my mother every year and wish her a Happy Father’s Day, I still remember the man to whom a daughter compares all others.