I think the best of a daughter’s childhood memories — the ones remembered most vividly and with hues of colour that have worn in other memories forgotten, and preserved with happiness and the nostalgia of past pages written in the diary of our lives — are the ones with dad. ‘Tis the case with me.
It’s not because memories with mom pale in comparison. It’s that what I’ve experienced is that a father-daughter relationship is as unique and multifaceted as a mother-daughter’s. While mum and I are deep like the waters, me and dad are wide like the skies. Mom is my best friend, my comfort in the storms and at sea. Dad is my mechanic and shield; He is my anchor of support in a vast ocean of uncertainty and dreams.
Dad was never the teacher type. He didn’t stand at the front of my life’s classroom with a pointer stick and ready detention slips. In fact, I distinctly remember him and another dad frequently bailing us out of second grade class to play kickball mid-day. (Can you believe our teacher let them do that?!) He wasn’t one of those parental figures who gave me a road map for anything. He didn’t bully me into navigating life while I sat in the back. No. He let me drive.
That’s what makes him the best kind of teacher. He coached me — from first base the day he told me to steal on the first pitch and I landed in the ER with six stitches to sew up a cleat whole in the side of my head, and from the passenger’s seat on my 16th birthday when I failed my driver’s test and so still required an adult in the vehicle on the drive home. Dad and I went back to the fields that day after the stitches. I played three more games. He coached from third the rest of the tournament. He also called me in sick to school so I could cry the rest of the morning at home, ashamed I was the like the only 16-year-old who fails their driver’s test.
Be a great coach… that, I’ve learned from dad. But not without these things, too:
Work hard, play harder. There is no one in this world that I know who could outwork my dad. Dad is like a one-man FBI agency in the workforce. He’s a little like Mark Wahlberg in “Shooter” and a lot like Vin Diesel in the Fast and the Furious. He puts in unseen overtime and he sacrifices without hesitancy if he believes it’s what’s best for his family. And so he works hard all sorts of mean hours and sometimes far from home.
But I’ll tell ya, if the man works hard… he plays harder. One of my favourite things about dad is that for him there is no price for fun. He is the epitome of a good time. Maybe it’s cruising on mopeds around the island, updating mom’s iPad, BBQing stir fry for dinner or sharing chicken fried steak, Dad has this really amazing dad ability to make everything seem like the best moment you’ve had all week.
Truly, the quickest way to test the water is to jump in. Now when I say dad taught me the best way to learn is to do, I literally mean he might have tossed me into a few lakes as a child. Of course, I learned how to swim, water ski, wake surf, wake board and ride a SeaDoo with the men because of it. Another story….
My first car was a little white VW bug we called the snowball — not just because it was white and round, but because when it snowed in the winter it was truly the bottom half of Frosty’s bod. Now the only real problem in the beginning with the snowball was that he was a pain in the ass to drive with all of his manual transmission-ness. When dad and I drove it off the lot a month before I turned 16, we only made it to the shoulder of the on ramp before we switched seats. He said it was easy as riding my Banshee. He was, of course, just believing in me a little too much as the mass line of horns in the Red Robin parking lot later would tell. Nonetheless, I learned to drive a stick and haven’t gone back.
Enjoy the things you have. The joke with dad is that if he finds something he likes or eats, it’d the best thing he’s ever seen or eaten. Take shrimp for instance. Every time our family vacations in Hawaii we make a night of dining at the glamourous Bubba Gump Shrimp Company where the menu consists of about 35 ways you can have your shrimp, I’d expect nothing less from this place. Anyhow, dad orders something different every time we’re there. And the whole family has agreed that their shrimp are one grade above mediocre, but they aren’t really worth asking Santa for. Unless your dad. He insists that between the atmosphere of the restaurant, the sweetness of Hawaiian air, the touch the breeze off the ocean beside us, in combination with the best pina colada he’s ever tasted — these shrimp are THE BEST SHRIMP he’s ever eaten. One thing about dad… he enjoys life and everything in it.
Always, without doubt, believe in those you love. Dad used to tell me I should be a lawyer or a doctor or a scientist (okay, he didn’t say scientist, but I used to sort of want to be one… story for another day). He believed in me and thought I had what it took to do anything I wanted. Needless to say, when my career became doing social media for a nonprofit organisation, it was a little like I gave away my German Shepherd for a Yorkie (true story, we really do have a Yorkie). Of course we know it’s not the size of the dog but the bite of the dog (does that analogy make sense here? Upon second thought, no), and when dad saw my workplace a couple of years back, he was magically entranced by the good work of the underpaid. So it came that it didn’t matter what I was doing, but that I was doing it and dad always believed in that.
When we told mum and dad we were moving to Auckland in February, dad never had any doubt in us. Because he believes in those he loves. And that… that a is a life-changing, life-shaping kind of thing to know.
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Poppy, I love you x a million. Your example and your love teach me every day what it means to be a daughter, a sister, a wife, an employee and a friend. Thank you for always, always believing in me. And for waking up early with me on exam days to catch breakfast at the golf course. And for buying me packs of chocolate Neccos even though I didn’t like them, I knew they were your favourite. Thanks for family vacations and for dump truck rides. Thanks for perfectly grilled hamburgers and Dairy Queen desserts. Most of all, thank you for being the best most wonderful dad I could ever imagine.
Happy Father’s Day.
P.S. I couldn’t leave this picture out… one of dad’s many talents…