My dad is a respectable man of his word. A kind and caring man who is still so handsome in his collared shirts, crisp khaki shorts and smell of Old Spice.
But, there was great difficulty between us when I was growing up. A tension that felt like an invisible barricade neither of us could break through. As a young girl, I couldn’t define it; I just knew it was there. I knew I wanted so much more from him and I knew I wasn’t receiving it.
I wrote about our journey in my book Table In The Darkness.
As a teenager this barrier made me angry and bitter towards him. I retaliated by using him for money and placing little value on our relationship. Most of my issues with him were because he didn’t talk much and I held on to mean things he said to me as a child, late into my twenties. Used them as reason I wasn’t going to pursue a relationship and reasons why I was going to hold a grudge. That wall became thicker and thicker. I found myself jealous at how he would relate so effortlessly to my brother and sister, but not to me.
More bricks. More resentment.
I couldn’t comprehend he was actually human.
That wall didn’t help either of us.
My dad is quiet and introverted and had a child (me) with an exorbitant amount of energy and incessant need to talk. All. The. Time. We were opposites in every way. I wanted him to be like me, to talk and to ask questions and to dive deep into theological conversation. I don’t know what he wanted from me, except probably for me to be a little less quiet and hyper.
When my parents divorced and my Dad had his own condo, he started a ritual that began to fracture our wall. I am not sure why, but it did. Driving away from his place, he would stand in front of the garage. Alone. And wave. He wouldn’t go inside until I was out of view. And every time I would cry. Back then; it frustrated me that tears would come.
It was his silent way of telling me; he loved me and hated to see me go.
Now as a grown woman when I drive away from his home in Kansas, with my three boys and husband in the car, he does the same thing. His hair is grayer, his body aged, but those eyes. Those blue eyes and the wave still look at me and tell me, I love you. I am so proud of you. I sob every time. He, in his own way gives me exactly what I needed.
He loved me and still loves me deeply. He didn’t show it with words, which is what I longed for, but showed it in his eyes. In his quiet presence. He showed it in the way that he always and still keeps his word. And now, as time and life trials have worn us both down we connect in our own way. I don’t wish for him to be someone other than he is anymore. I don’t hold memories of past mistakes and hurtful words, because as parent I am now making some of the same mistakes. What I know, deep in my heart is that he loves me, has always loved me, even if then I couldn’t quite see it.
I know better now. I have greater insight now, and oh how I wish I would have had it then. My Dad did the absolute best he could.
I am writing this because today is a very big day for a dear friend of mine, Michelle Watson. A respected therapist, and a dear sweet friend. Today is the launch of her book, Dad, Here’s What I Really Need from You – A Guide for Connecting with Your Daughter’s Heart.
It took me years to even understand what I needed from my Dad, and maybe years for him to be able to do the same. I don’t know for sure, but I know the learning curve would have been shorter for both of us, had a book like this been available.
There are so many helpful tips and quotes in this book.
“Every girl Needs to See Her Dad’s Eyes Light Up When He Sees Her.” -page 133
My Dad does this, every time I come home and I love it so much. I encourage you; buy this book for your husband. Your Dad. Your co-worker. The book launches today, a perfect day to go and buy it!