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Monday, June 21, 2010

To all the Fathers...

I no longer have a father to hug and kiss on Father’s Day. But I can celebrate the 40 years that I did have with my father by reliving the memories.
The relationship between a father and daughter is a special one. If you are father of a little girl, take note.
You are the first man that your little girl will meet. So take care to make a good impression, will you? Every man she meets going forward will be compared to you, the benchmark. You will be her measurement of toughness, softness, caring, forgiveness and masculinity. She will one day subconsciously choose a mate who reminds her of you. If you’ve done your job well.
A little girl also learns her own measure of self-worth through her relationship with her father. She needs your acceptance, your approval, and your understanding. She needs you to tell her that she has done well, that she makes you proud, and yes, she needs you to tell her that she is pretty.
My dad didn’t do a whole lot of fawning over me as a child, but he got the approval message across with the reverse psychology technique as I grew up. When I wore something a little too skimpy, he let me know. When I changed into a less-revealing outfit, he voiced his approval with a nod and a grunt.
When I barely passed the Relations and Functions math course, he just said “you are smart in other ways”. He read every one of my news articles, magazine stories and columns.
If I was on stage for a public speaking contest, theatre production, piano recital or talent show, Dad would be sure to show up early and sit in one of the front rows, where I could see him. If an event was especially important to me, he would wear a suit and tie. That had a definite impact on my self-esteem.
Dad communicated without words. He didn’t say “I love you” very much, but I new he did. Without a doubt. It was one of the true absolutes in my life. My father’s love.
When I made mistakes (and there have been some doozies), Dad quietly helped me to clean up the mess of my life. He lent a hand, lent money, gave me a car and a roof over my head, and did not pass judgment. He let me learn my lessons the hard way. But he always made sure that I knew he was watching. I feel him watching, still.
Dad lives on in my memories. He had a saying for every situation (some of them rather crude but we couldn’t help laughing) and I still hear his words in my head. There are many things that trigger memories of my dad. The taste of black licorice cigars, Eatmore candy bars and Napoleon pastries. The smell of Old Spice and snowmobile engines on the cold winter air. Being in a speedboat, with the wind in my hair. And certain songs remind me of Dad too. I can picture him doing his little groovy shuffle dance when I hear them. He loved “Rasputin” by Boney M, most songs by ABBA, and anything by Elvis. Dad loved to dance. Of course, the words to some songs about dads just make me cry. This one in particular is a real tearjerker: “If I could steal one final glance, one final step, one final dance with him, I’d play a song that would never end ‘cause I’d love to dance with my father again…”

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