We Are Family

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Today is Father’s Day and I spent the entire day reconnecting with my dad. We live in different cities and only see each other a few times a year (more now that I’m single).

He’s not a big communicator. He doesn’t like to talk on the phone and my texts have to end with a question that requires a yes or no answer. So, it’s only in those face-to-face moments that we really get to reconnect. It serves as a reminder of how much I love him, miss him and need to spend more time with him.

I had a million things on my to-do list to get done this weekend. Instead, I slowed down and focused on my dad. We lunched and laughed. We went to my son’s hockey thing. Then we drove down to Zilker Botanical Gardens and literally stopped to smell the flowers, to watch a hummingbird and to take a picture of a turtle and a piece of wood because the texture of it caught his eye.

For as long as I can remember, my dad has loved taking pictures. One of my earliest memories is running through grass as tall as I was, trying to catch butterflies while he took pictures of it.

After dinner and a shared pizookie, we came back home and talked of past relationships, crushing heartbreaks and how beautiful the world really is. We laughed and cried (okay, I cried and he remained at that 30,000 foot level of ‘that’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes’). My dad’s all-in, never ending love for my mother (who died 34 years ago btw) is why I still believe in true, giddy, can’t-get-you-out-of-my-head love. It’s inspiring, it’s touching and it’s heartbreaking.

Yet he stops to smell the flowers and enjoy the beauty in small things. He looks for the good in people. He’s patient and kind. He’s quiet. I used to spend hours with him in his darkroom while he developed pictures. Using very few words, he showed me how to develop pictures (not that he can’t tell a long (oy-vey) story when he’s passionate about something). He’s pretty methodical and takes things slow. He’s in his own head a lot. He thinks, then speaks.

He also knows how to be silly and sing out loud in public. He loves music and we’ve always listened to the radio and sang together. It doesn’t matter if you’re in or out of tune, just that you love the music and can feel it. He bought me my first album and many after that.

Someone recently asked me what I’m looking for in my next partner. I would have to say I’m looking for someone with more of the same qualities as my dad. My ex was nothing like my dad and that’s a life-lesson for me. My dad will also tell me I don’t need a “next partner” which is one of the many things I love about him.

My family doesn’t do drama. We don’t have family feuds. We live and let live. We’re independent. We love God. We forgive. We turn the other cheek. We love. We laugh. We play silly games. We laugh some more. We sing. We dance. We’re a fairly quiet bunch (unless there’s a football game on, or we need to bust into song). We cook together. We eat together. We’re inclusive. If you don’t have a place to go for Thanksgiving, we’ll make room for you at our table. We’re curious. Most of us ask a lot of questions.

Before my dad left, he got on the ground and looked under my car to finish his diagnosis of all of the things I need to fix. He wished he was 20 years younger so he could fix it himself.

I wish he was 20 years younger too, but not so he can fix my car. My family lives a very long time, but it’s never really long enough and I’ll always want my dad to remind me of who I am when I need reminding and for when it’s time to slow down and smell the flowers.

Happy Father’s Day dad, I’m proud to be your daughter.