Dads, Daughters, and Time

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This is for the Dad’s out there who have daughters who are still babies and the ones whose daughters are already grown.

Time. It’s the conundrum of the ages. Time passes and the best we can pray for is that the days will allow us to will speed through our grief and slow through our moments of happiness. Life unfortunately, doesn’t work that way. The happier times pass too fast and grief seems to grab us from out of the blue and haunt us from season to season. There’s never more an awareness of time as when a daughter must say goodbye to her father. It’s as if you want to hold out your hand in front of you and grab a hold of time and beg it to stop.

I have spent most of my adult life trying to figure out when my dad would finally see me as an independent adult, capable of making her own decisions and living with her own consequences. It always seemed to me that he never saw me any older than the age of 10. I can remember being in my twenties desperately wanting him to understand that “I can handle anything life throws at me.” I was a grown woman making her own money. I had my own friends and my own life. The only thing I needed from my dad was money every so often to help me pay a bill or two. In my twenties, dad was a physical presence that was always going to be there and a presence I could always come back to.

Time however, is a tricky little game. When your parents are healthy and full of energy, seems to be the time when you need them the least. It was around my mid-thirties when I started to notice that time was moving faster than I had wanted it to. Dad’s walk had started to slow and his hair had thinned. Somewhere around that time I started to observe that within my own life, time was moving faster and faster as Christmas’ came too quick and birthdays were the demonstration that the moments were as fleeting as the wind. It was also around that time, when I wanted to be the 10 year old little girl again looking into my father’s eyes knowing I could do no wrong. I wanted the innocence of childhood to return and that feeling of knowing that no matter what happened; daddy would be there to keep me safe.

There are two moments in life that I believe bring you closer to understanding your parents more than anything possibly could. The first is becoming a parent yourself and the second is when you lose one of them. Losing a parent leaves you with many questions. You start to think about all the things left unsaid, all the questions you never asked, and all the times they were there for you when you acted like an idiot or made a stupid ass of yourself. Sitting at my father’s funeral, I thought less about him and more about me. I thought about the woman I became, because of him. I started to understand him the more I thought about who I was. I remember thinking that I didn’t want his funeral to end, because once that last song was played and the last prayer was given, that life would go on and no one would see me as ten years old again.

Society makes us believe that the ultimate dad is the dad who can fix a car, threatens their daughter’s boyfriends, tells funny stories, dispenses life lessons, and puts their little girls on their laps and gives adoring hugs day in and day out. That’s not who my dad was. I’m not sure my dad could fix a car and I don’t really have memories of me sitting on his lap while he told me stories of the past. We never were a very affectionate family and to be honest, I don’t really know if he ever lectured a boyfriend about getting me home on time. This is what I do know, though. I know that my dad was a good man. I know that he worked hard. I know that he worried about his daughter’s safety so much so, that he frequently asked how my car ran and if I had gotten my oil changed recently. He always wanted me to have money in my wallet for emergency’s and even at the age of 40, still cared that I was making the right decisions for my career. He concerned himself over my benefits at work and wanted to know if I had good health insurance. He still worried that the world was too big for me.

As I sat at the funeral thinking about who he was, I began to understand what a father’s job is when it comes to his daughters. A dad is a person who no matter what, no matter where their daughters go in life; is there to protect them. Even when the daughter has her own family; dad still wants to wrap the bubble around his little girl and make sure no one hurts her and that she gets the best out of life; even when he knows she must make her own decisions and own her own mistakes.

My dad was the greatest man I never knew. I don’t know what his favorite color was and I can’t tell you if he lived the dream. I don’t know what his favorite song was, nor do I know if he was happy. Did he know how much I loved him? Life I guess is about the unanswered questions, because it’s the unanswered questions that allow us to continually look at ourselves and ultimately moves us forward. None of the unanswered questions matter to me, though. Sitting here one week from the day he died, barely able to write without the tears, I know this one thing. Father’s love their daughters and in their eyes, we will always be ten years old. And the daughters? Well, the older we get, the more we want to be ten years old again and the more we want our dad’s to ask us if we have had the oil changed in our car. We want our freedom to grow up, but we want daddy to keep us safe, even if we can’t admit it. Their advice rings in our heads with every major decision we make and when something good happens, they are the first person we want to call and tell the news to. We want to make them proud and we want them to tell us they are proud of us. We hold them on pedestals as to how other men should treat us and we still want dad to like the mates we choose.

Time might turn us into women, but in our hearts we will always be their ten year old little girls.