Friday, May 30, 2014

For My Father

My Dad's birthday is today, and you guys know he is one of my favorite people ever (and several of yours too!)

He will be enormously embarrassed by this. But.

Instead of getting you another button down shirt, I thought I would write this for you. (Oh wait, I did buy a button down shirt.  Whoops).

Corey and Griffin

Dear Daddy (Am I getting too old to call you that now that I have gray hair?  Surely not),

I know we are not a demonstrative family.  I know too much emotion makes you uncomfortable (hence the Door County restaurant recommendations as you walked me down the aisle, ha!).  But I also have always known how much you love us.  Because I've watched you.

I've watched you leave work early in the afternoon every Wednesday of my whole childhood, an entire fifteen years worth, to sit in rush hour traffic for two hours one way, so that you could spend 90 minutes with Kiernan and I, and then drive the hour plus back home.  You never missed, not once.  Not when you had a big case going to trial.  Not when our mother spent 20 of that 90 minutes yelling at you about something.  Not when you were locked out.  Not even when we were awful teenagers.  I know you must have been so tired of that drive.  You must have made sacrifices at the office.  You must have been so frustrated.  But as a child, I never knew, because you never complained.  All I ever knew was how much you missed us.  I watched, and I learned love, and endurance, and the importance of priorities.

I watched you when I moved in with you guys as a teenager.  You sat me down and told that you weren't going to make up a whole lot of rules, because I'd had enough of that in my life, and I was a responsible kid.  You told me that I was expected to do well at school and to never drink and drive.  And beyond that, you trusted me.  And that was more effective than a book full of rules, because I wanted to be worthy of your trust.  I watched, and I learned respect.

I've watched you put us through college.  You gave us money to go get dresses for sorority formals, big dates, rush.  You bailed me out when I overdrew my checking account.  Again.  And you never complained once.  But Rohini told me that you didn't buy yourself a new suit for work the whole time we were in college, so that we could have all those silly dresses.  I watched, and I learned selflessness and sacrifice.

I've watched you as you disagree with some of my adult choices.  I know you must still see me as a baby, no matter how old I get.  You line up all your arguments to see if you can change my mind, but once you know that you can't, you never mention it again, even if it becomes obvious that you were right.  (The longer I live, the more I see how often you have always been right).  I watched, and I learned acceptance, and humility, and grace.

I watched you sit through Notting Hill, at the theater, seven times.  Once on a trip to Europe.  And you never even tried to change our minds about the movie choice.  And I learned cheerfulness.  And perseverance, ha!  And patience again.

I've watched you always keep learning.  Your "to-read-for-fun" pile looks like a college syllabus.  You have always made it to the gym, no matter what.  You are still friends with your college roommates.  I know now that those things don't just happen, they take a real effort.  I watched, and I learned to make sure I keep something just for me, to remember who I was before all these babies.  And those things have rescued me many, many times over.

I can't tell you how often I ask myself how you would handle a situation, especially with my kids, and then try to follow your example.  You are so much better than I am at relaxing and knowing what is important.  I don't remember you ever raising your voice, not once.  Watching you parent Aidan and Indira is one of the greatest gifts of my life, because I get to see you how much you love us, and them.

When I was growing up, Jeanne always used to say "You're just like your father."

I would be so lucky.

Happy Birthday Daddy.  I love you with my whole heart.  You are one of the best men I know.


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