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My Perfect Father, a Short Story

Updated on August 26, 2013
Close up of Dad with cigar in mouth as always (Late 1970s)
Close up of Dad with cigar in mouth as always (Late 1970s) | Source

What I Want My Perfect Father to Know

He always remained the most important man in my life, and my disdain for his actions over the years has turned to the calm understanding for a man who had no idea what it meant to be a father until he reached his senior years.

The conversations are smooth and humor always lurks beneath every meaning, it's just how we have always been together. When I look at him these days, my heart sings and my smile widens, yet the questions form more-so now then ever before. I feel myself looking deeper into his eyes searching for the things I must know before he goes; the things only he has the answers to. But, more than knowing what he has to share, he must know this one very important thing I have to share with him; he turned out to be the perfect father for me, despite our rough beginnings.

My Scottish Dad in front of American flag (2007)--trust me that cigar is in his hand!
My Scottish Dad in front of American flag (2007)--trust me that cigar is in his hand! | Source

The Scotsman My Father Be

A Scottish Balmoral constantly perched upon his head and a dark stick-like yet quite pricey cigar, ever bouncing at the corner of his mouth, my father is a sight to behold. The part of his face that I can see, that which is not covered by his well manicured bristly black— and more grey these days— beard, shows deep-set lines as if their purpose is to navigate and manage the telling of his life story. To me, he is an anomaly of strength, kindness, visceral anger, and love. Which of these anomalies he will display can only be discovered once each moment begins. However, I never find the risk greater than the reward when it comes to talking with my Father, which I lovingly call Da' these days.

My Fit, Brilliant and Talented Father

My Da' has always been a very fit man, sporting large muscular arms and a torso so tight and defined that his favorite game when we were young was to have us punch his gut as hard as we could, something like that of the great Houdini. Skilled in the mantle of Martial Arts, as well as the art of oil painting, his true desires for artistic expression escaped his reach at a young mans age. He married my very Jewish Mother and then joined the family construction business my grandfather had began decades prior. His muscles may have shown clearly back then, yet less like that of a burly carpenter, my fathers height remained 5' 9" among the large Norwegian and Irish 6 footers he hired to his construction sites. With a new bride and family on the way, making a viable living was paramount. Thus, his quest for artistic passions played second fiddle to his newly acquired responsibilities. This fact is easily read in his eyes, as it haunts him to this day.

My dad and Granfather in the late 1960s
My dad and Granfather in the late 1960s | Source

His intelligence is truly beyond measure, an IQ so high his emotions struggled to contain all that stirs within his brilliant mind. The one tool he uses from his artistic performers soul is his most beautiful tenor singing voice only matched by those three renowned male Opera stars. I remain amazed each time I catch him beautifully belting-out an Italian melody while conducting some mundane chore around his home. At 77 years of age he harbours the pipes of a 30 year old without a doubt. I don't believe anyone but me truly knows he desired to be a performer/artist; acting, singing, dancing and above all substrate style art (painting, drawing, carving and the likes). I always felt privileged to know this about my Da' it has been a strong connection throughout our lives.

My Dad on the rigging of his sailboat in the 1970s. He loved that captain's hat almost as much as his Scottish Balmoral.
My Dad on the rigging of his sailboat in the 1970s. He loved that captain's hat almost as much as his Scottish Balmoral. | Source

My Not-So Perfect, Perfect Father

There have been many times in my life where my father was absent, unavailable, or just out of reach when I needed him. His interests went to the water and living on his huge antique sailboat for a year or two, it seemed nothing took precedence over his wooden hulled lady of the sea. Yet, today those times seem very dim in memory, even unimportant. As when I absolutely needed him most he was always there.

You see, a critical time came where I watched my heartbroken friends struggle with their stories and admissions of alternate lifestyles. Violence and homelessness were the more usual outcome for those who shared their truth with family. I must admit, I had visions of similar results creeping around in my mind before I began to tell my own truth.

But when it came my turn, I found it an easy transition to tell my Da' about my truth. When I look back on the way my father responded to my coming out as a lesbian early in my life, I think possibly he did know how to be a father more than I gave him credit for all those years ago. When I tried, at 18, to tell him I was gay, he finished that difficult sentence for me. With a clear statement that he had always known, and long before I had realized it myself. It never seemed all that important to him, and he has always been my greatest supporter, never judging or reprimanding my truth, simply offering up the loving advice and guidance of a father. I believe, for me anyway, few things in life have more value than that moment.

Much later in 2008, as my spouse of 14 years, Debbie, was dying from the ravishes of ovarian cancer, my father was the quiet strength I could hear, and the voice of reason I needed when I was at my most unreasonable. My father offered me his unconditional love. He loved her because I loved her. That is a gift only a perfect father can offer, and one I keep perched at the deepest depths of my heart.

My Perfect Father Moment

When I ponder memories of my childhood and youth, I can see how the anger and pitiful things can degrade the relationship between my father and I. I have forever cast these unimportant hurtful memories aside. At 51, I can say I am a daddy's girl with much pride as well as joy. The miss-steps and absence all fall away in a haze of unnecessary resentment.

The things I learned from my father may have come later in life, but they are the more important things, viable and tangible arriving in their proper placement in time. My independence and courage stem directly from the lessons my father taught me without even being there. My formidable personality and sense of humor each derived from trial and error and then successful methods of communication with him. My kind unconditional love of people and all living things comes directly from the manner in which he handled the most critical moment in my life. Without a flinch, a scowl, or a gesture of judgement, my father accepted me as the Lesbian Woman I am. I know without a doubt that I am loved through it all, and unconditionally so. Therefore, I say for me, this man I call Da'...he is and always has been My Perfect Father.

K9keystrokes © 2011


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