Contributed by Donna Marie
When I was a little girl, I felt a great deal of instability–living away from home, divorced parents, a stepmother, younger siblings–being in a blended family can cause feelings of insecurity. But through it all, you remained the one constant in my life. Sure, as I look back through the eyes of my youth, I can unequivocally say (and I’m sure you’ll agree!) you were certainly a disciplinarian, a really strict father. You ruled with a velvet-clad iron stick and just with a look, any thought of disagreement or the most remote feeling of rebellion on my part were instantly snuffed out.
You always appeared to be in control (you still do!) and you weren’t particularly touchy-feely or demonstrative (so many fathers aren’t). I can only remember one time when you lost control and allowed me to catch a glimpse of your vulnerable side. You were sitting on the bed, and I was tickling your feet. Little did I know just how ticklish you were. So I’m tickling you and you’re laughing and I’m having a good time seeing you in a whole new light. That continued for a few minutes and then as quickly as it started, you said in that stern, familiar voice, “Now that’s enough!” I persisted, but only for a few more seconds. You have always had a way of clearly getting your message across, just by looking at me in that certain way. (You know the one.) So naturally I stopped. At the time I was quite disappointed and, even to this day, I haven’t tickled you again. Isn’t it interesting how some experiences remain crystal clear in one’s mind, while others appear to fade away? I remember that incident as if it was yesterday.
Despite your serious manner and approach to parenting, I’ve always felt such a tremendous bond with us— a feeling of being safe and protected, which young children need (and I might add, older children appreciate) to grow and express life. But even more significantly, I always felt and knew you loved me.
As I’ve become older, I can honestly admit this strict upbringing is the cornerstone of a life, which I’m extremely happy with. Now we are even closer, the gap of years has become filled as we share experiences with each other, meeting in that – sometimes under-rated, sometimes over-rated – place called adulthood. Even though you are my father, I feel we enhance each others’ perspective on life. The affection we have for each other has become more evident over the years, from the hugs, kisses to the I love yous we exchange. We have a deep respect for each other and regularly discuss ideas about topics far and wide,”What does it take to make a relationship work?” “Who’s the best tennis player in the world?” “What’s it like to visit Russia or the Far East?” “How one best deals with a difficult client?” “What does God mean to you?” We also recognize those areas where we disagree and, for the most part, have an agree to disagree philosophy.
One of the things I always remember is the way you go for and accomplish what you set your mind to. Whether it’s cutting out butter without hesitation because of high cholesterol diagnosis (do you remember that?) or avoiding back surgery by applying a daily routine of exercise or working day and night to close the biggest business deal of your career. You never spend much time in the problem, so focused are you on solution-finding! It’s no wonder I believe everything is possible! It’s no wonder I admire you so very much and look to you for advice! Not that you tell me what to do. Rather, you have an uncanny ability to metaphorically present a picture for me to chew on which helps me make the best decision at the given time.
You are always there for me–no matter what I want to do, no matter what the question. You are the most supportive, loving father a child could hope for. For most of each year, we are separated by the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea but I feel much closer to you now than ever. Thanks Graham Bell! Thanks Wright Brothers!
Finally, I want you to know the joy I feel being your daughter and to let you know just how much you are appreciated and loved, each and every day of my life.
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