It's pretty easy to see that this man is related to me. He's constantly running around outdoors like an excited child, when he cleans, the entire house is upheaved first, then slowly reorganized. And he has a bleeding heart for animals and those in need.
He's also stubborn, outspoken, and hides uncomfortable sincerity in humor. We can be so similar sometimes it makes me want to tear my hair out.
It has taken a long time (and a decent amount of therapy) to realize how deeply my father has affected the person I am. When I was 13, Al Gore lost the Presidential election and I realized for the first time how frustrating it is to disagree with my Dad. I had begun my own liberal, vegetarian, evolutionist path and our ideological differences made our communication...difficult. I hadn't become an athlete or an astronaut or a son and sometimes it seemed like the person I was wasn't quite good enough.
But, when my heart was broken for the first time, he sat on the floor and held me as I sobbed. When I decided to travel to Costa Rica alone, he made it very clear that if anything happened to me, he would march himself to Latin America and murder someone. And when I had a staph infection in my face that would have killed me, he ignored my insistence it was just a cold and pushed me out the door to urgent care.
Plus, when I was a kid, I wanted to be a mummy for Halloween, so he made a plaster mold of my face wrapped in gauze and it was the best.costume.ever.
It's been a complicated journey to discover that, while he may have pushed a little hard sometimes, my Dad always wanted the best for me. He wanted me to be successful, have security, and avoid regret. With entirely too many lectures, he opened my eyes to how fortunate I was, to the many opportunities I had in front of me, and to my own responsibility for making the world a better place.
I'm not sure he sees it, mostly because the outcomes he had in mind are different than the reality, but he certainly succeeded. Our ideologies, the sources of our regret, and our concepts of security are different, but dammit if I don't live every day with the intent of being better, stronger, and braver because of him.
The older I get, the more I realize all he ever did was love me. He might communicate it in an annoying way sometimes, but it is always there. And from here, it is my responsibility to love myself, to love my journey, and to love the memories and experiences which delivered me here.
So today, I'd like to shine a spotlight on the pain, the frustration, and the ugly pieces in my relationship with my Dad. Because without those, I could not have faced the demons that were holding me from the life I wanted. Without those, I could not appreciate the crippling and constant love which poured out of him every day as he watched me grow into the talented, confident, tough woman I am (even if I am a liberal vegetarian).
Dad - Thank you for being the person you are. It has showed me so much about myself.
But seriously, please stop trying to turn me against Obama.
Happy Father's Day.