Being that it is Father’s Day, I wanted to write a tribute to my late father. I decided that I would figure out exactly what I wanted to say by looking through the photo albums I took from my parents’ house when they passed away. Seventeen albums later, this is what I realized.
1. My father is in very few pictures. Obviously, he was the picture taker. In our house, I am the picture taker. One day, will my daughters look back at the thousands of pictures I have taken and wish, as I did this morning, that I would have passed the camera off more? I wish I had more pictures of him.
2. My father’s favorite subjects were people sleeping, cars, and distant family members I do not remember.
3. Between 1971-1975, we took a bunch of small vacations that I do not remember. We went to Dearborn, Michigan; Apple Valley; and Canada.
Nonetheless, I did find a few pictures that confirmed what I already knew. I was the apple of my dad’s eye. I always felt loved, no matter how tough it got in our house, I knew my father’s love was constant.
I knew it when:
…he would leave for work at 6:30 PM, and we had to be inside in our pajamas, even though the neighborhood kids were all outside playing. He needed to know we were safe and protected before he could leave the house.
…he would brag about my brother and me. Ricky was the athletic one, and my father spent much time doting about his athletic prowess. When it came to talking about me, he would acclaim that I was the smart one, the thinker. “She’s wise beyond her years,” I heard him tell someone once. He proudly spoke about our accomplishments. He never compared us; he never asked us to do more than our personal best.
…we would spend hours together working a puzzle. My father loved to build puzzles, and I learned to love puzzles as well. Usually we would meet at the puzzle table to each put in a piece. Two hours and “one-more-piece later”, we would break together to share a snack.
…he drove me to and from school every day for a semester my Sophomore year of high school. Bussing had been cut because of financial cutbacks, and I happened to pick a high school a half hour from my home. He rearranged his schedule to get me there and home every day. The minute I got my driver’s license, I got a car.
…he would secretly hide money in my car when I left for college. Three weeks after a trip home, I would be on the phone complaining about being poor, and he would say, “Hmm, maybe I left you a little something behind your visor.” I would tear across campus to my car. Safety pinned to the visor would be $50.00. Yes, I was spoiled by my father.
…he told me time and again I should consider teaching. As a teenager, I wanted to make my own career decisions, I didn’t want anyone to tell me what I should do. He was never offended by my brazen attitude, he would say, “I just think you’d be good at it.” At 26, when I told my parents I was quitting my job and going back to school to get a Masters of Education, he said, “Well, it’s about time.” Sometimes, I feel my father knew me better than I knew myself.
I couldn’t find any old pictures of us together except for these three. Nonetheless, the way we interact in these pictures, the way he looks at me says it all. My dad was good at being a father, and I would not be the person I am today without his love.