I credit who I am today to a lot of people but mainly my father. At 31 I still call him ‘Daddy’ and am a proud Daddy’s girl. Too often the only reference to a woman’s father is in terms of her having “Daddy issues”. I know that not everyone is blessed with a fantastic father but I truly have been.
My father and I have a very close relationship. Things that girls typically go to their mother for I sought out my father. When I liked a boy and didn’t know if he liked me back I went right to the source, a man, and asked him his thoughts. When I needed comfort it was his soft chest hair that I cuddled up to, and his deep voice I needed to soothe me.
When I was ready to date it was my Daddy who took me to the shooting range and taught me self defense. When the boys came to the house he would simply say, “She’s a better shot than I am.” and that was enough. I didn’t need protection from him or anyone else; he’d seen to it that I could take care of myself. That was incredibly empowering for a young woman to know that he would take care of me if need be but that I was capable of taking care of myself as well. I needed no rescuing because he instilled in me the confidence to know I was able to handle myself.
When I had my first heartbreak it was his warm chest I snuggled up to and cried. When I was terrified that I wanted what I may never achieve, a career as a writer, it was my father who invested in a laptop and an online writing course for me. He didn’t sugar coat anything, never has, and I appreciate that. He told me, “You might be absolute shit but you’ll never know until you try” and then sent me on my way.
He’s not a fixer, never has been, it’s just not his style. Whenever I went to him with an issue he’d listen to me, nodding along, and when I finished he’d simply ask, “So how are you going to fix it?” That’s it. No, ‘here’s what you do, kid’. I got a simple, ‘Okay, I hear what your problem is…now fix it’. When I asked him what he’d do he’d just turn it around telling me that he wasn’t me and what worked for him wouldn’t work for me. I hated that then but I appreciate the hell out of it now. He taught me to solve my own problems, believe my instincts, listen to my warning bells, and to trust in myself and my abilities.
Secretly I think he was just woefully out of his element. An only child who married the oldest of five kids and then had four daughters, he quickly went from a small to a very large, loud and boisterous family. He wasn’t used to the noise, thought we were always killing each other and didn’t understand why four girls in one bathroom would create problems. He wasn’t always free with his feelings but he learned that we girls needed to hear ‘I love you’ and now I can tell you I hear it all the time. He learned that we may not be his “boys” but that we would gladly go shooting, fishing, play sports, do archery, and engage in hobbies he enjoyed with him.
When my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer last October I felt like the floor dropped out from under me. I couldn’t breathe. Life without my Daddy is an impossible thought. Having already outlived his father by over 10 years this news threw me for quite a loop. Luckily his cancer was caught early and treated easily and he is now cancer free. I never needed a reason to tell my father I love him, ever, but that little dose of reality brought to the forefront how lucky I am. He’s not perfect but he’s mine and I’m so incredibly blessed he is.