When I was growing up my dad wasn’t around a lot. Maybe you can relate. Whenever there was a concert performance or a parade to attend, it was always my mom who was there to watch me.
Then, in 2004 my mom died. My dad was left feeling pretty lost. So was I. At the time I was living in Durango, Colo. I spent another two years in Colorado before moving home to Illinois.
People often ask why I left the beauty of Colorado for Illinois and I always say it was because of family – more specifically my dad. I realized that while living my life was important, everything in life is temporary. The amount of time I have to spend with my dad is limited. I’m not married or tied to anything. I can always go back if I want.
After I moved home I lived with my dad for about seven months. They were challenging months, let me tell you. My dad and I were less like father and daughter and more like roommates. Talk about the odd couple.
That time I spent with my dad had its challenges. He refused to let me use the dishwasher, believing it used more water than hand washing dishes. Watching TV was a constant battle.
But, aside from the silly little challenges we faced, I learned a lot more about my father and who he was. I also began to realize how much he really loved me and how proud he was of me.
As the only girl in the family with three older brothers I was always known as the baby. I was the “momma’s girl.” Until one day I realized I wasn’t.
After all the years I had spent believing I was just like my mom, I now started to realize how much more like my father I really was.
My dad is the kind of guy who when you take him anywhere he always seems to know someone. He is fiercely loyal to his friends and has an independent spirit, which is partly why he wasn’t around much when I was growing up. He had a lot of dreams when he was younger, many he couldn't realize because of responsibility and family expectations.
While he worries about me and I'm sure I send him into a panic, I know he believes in my dreams and wants to see me achieve them.
I realize now there is more of my dad’s spirit in me than I expected. I’ve embraced this and it’s helped comfort me. I realized that while I loved my mom so very much, her dying before my father allowed me to build a relationship with him.
Today I will do what many kids do; I will give my dad a card and a gift. I’ll make sure he knows I love him and I’ll give him a hug and a kiss. He won’t hug me back, but that’s ok. He’s shown me over the years how much he cares. The words I love you don’t always have to be spoken to be true.