It is tradition in our family that we rotate through the kids (my siblings) and every year for my father's birthday we share a memory, we share the gifts he left us with. This year it is my turn. I thought I would share what I posted on my family blog.
I have been thinking about this post for a very long time . . . four years to be exact. As the youngest of four children it is my turn to commemorate my father on what would be his 60th Birthday. I wish I could add some photo's but none capture him right. So I will try to paint it with my words exactly what I want you to see.
I was six or seven years old , Mom and I were home together. I remember the gold velvety set of chairs in the very clean living room. Dad was up all night at the hospital and came home on his lunch break for a much needed nap. I thus entertained my self in our split level 70's basement. Popcorn ceilings that cornered to plastered white textured covering for the top 1/3 portion of the wall. Some fabulous dark wood paneling covered the remaining wall that carried your eye down to the multi colored carpet. Of all colors to mix (on purpose) the owner's choose the brown/red/orange/black carpet . . .Do you remember how us kids called it the throw up carpet.
It is in this creative sparking atmosphere my youthful drama began. I preceded to meander and hum my favorite songs. As I worked from the rocking horse, to the book self still singing. I was my own back up, my own echo, I was a one girl choir. As time went on the volume increased. Before no time I was Dancing and bolting out any and every song I knew. I really only needed to know a percentage of the actual lyrics, as I could figure out new rhyming patterns and words.
Just at the climax of my bizarre musical I met my father coming down from the top floor as I was dancing up from the basement. At this moment (not a moment earlier) I connected the dots that my dad was trying to nap, and I was screaming appalling half lyrics to tone deaf rhythms.
I was startled and braced myself for the appropriate scowl and lecture. I was even more startled by his reaction. One in which I ponder on often. I am tearing up as I vividly can see his face it was more youthful, with his big ears, clean shaven and a huge smile. He tenderly says, "I really enjoyed your singing, Thank you". He gets to the living room, I am still a few steps down in the basement, and looks back at me. To this day I don't know if it ever registered what he said next, I was absorbing the first compliment. I do know it was an uplifting and funny compliment at my grotesque attempt at being a movie star.
As all of you know it is not shocking that Dad would compliment or find the good in being kept awake. It is not that this was a rare glimpse into his heart. Dad was a caring person that his actions were driven from his heart. The amazing thing is that he read my inner heart, my deepest secret wants and desires and needs. I loved to sing, as bad as i was I sooo enjoyed singing. In that minute experience from 23 years ago my father told me; he loved me, loved me more then him napping, loved me enough to hear my off tune screeching and have it be music to his ears. Dad told me with out words "I was listening and it was great seeing my child be herself that I didn't, couldn't interrupt her". He loved my wacky creative chaos, he loved my shortcomings.
This event is neatly packaged and placed in the back of my mind. I have wandered to it thousands of times, running through the dialog, the story. Every time I think upon it I feel like a better person, I feel more able, I feel empowered and loved. Dad just as easily could have yelled form upstairs to quiet down, and I would not have thought about it again. Yet he gave me the time and space to express my inner soul (if you will). As rough and off tune as it was he found such beauty in my creation of mix matched rock 'n roll songs jumping from chorus to chorus of different songs.
Now as I am a mother and have children inventing them selves I grow to appreciate it even more. When Jeddy yells to me "Mommy, look at me" with all the excitement he can muster as he hangs of the edge of a slide backwards with one foot kicking up and his tongue out. I try to give that same encompassing smile I received and say great work Big guy, as I run to catch him before he falls. When Madisen brings me cards she has scripted, "Mom I love you, I am glad god made one of you. I do not want 2 of you or 3 of you , I am happy with one of you". I give her a big tear filled hug. I did not correct her backwards g's, I did not ask "what would be wrong with having 2 of me, am i that bad?"I know she is coming up with her own words to tell me how much she cares, she does not want hallmark to do the work for her. As Benson races the big kids up the stairs and tip toes to get 'his' toothbrush (which is usually Madisen's) and shows us he understands . .. "kids go get your teeth brushed". I give him a proud wink, He knows how to obey.
I am grateful for the awareness that I now carry to enjoy the molding of my kids. I am grateful for the example he was. I am grateful for his humor that made so many terrible events tolerable. I am grateful that he made things that were important to me, important to him. Hopefully I can encourage my children to sing out of tune, to make up lyrics they forget, to apply for grad school, or what ever it is, to be who they are . . .because just as my Father loved me, I love them.
Happy Birthday Dad, I miss you.
your atilla the hun