Gifts My Father Gave Me

It's Father's Day, the day to give gifts to our dads that express our love and gratitude for everything they have given us. I do not get a passing grade in this department: I didn't get mine anything. Nothing. Squat. Nada.

I am using, as my excuse, the fact that he is out of the state right now. Maybe I'll get my act together by the time he gets back. (Want to extend that vacation, dad??) But I have thought about him all day long, as I've helped my own kids do things for their dad to mark the day. I've thought about what I might give him to show him how much I love him, but I'm coming up empty. Instead, all I keep thinking about is what he has given me, which far exceeds anything I could purchase or anything I could imagine.

He gave me Angel Band, and an appreciation for bluegrass music that surprises me, since as a kid, the sound of a banjo made me want to quadruple pierce my ears, vote Republican, and watch mindless television just to piss him off. As an adult, I actually adore and often choose bluegrass. That's some serious dad love right there.

He gave me Mystery Theater. One of my all time favorite childhood memories is of lying on the chaise lounge in daddy's pottery studio late at night while he worked, listening to the creeeeeeeeeeaak of a door and the voice of E. G. Marshall bringing a thrilling story to our cozy corner of the world. I'm sure this is one of the reasons why today I love radio and narration.

He gave me hook and eye locks on the bathroom doors in my childhood home, a story that goes along with the amazing wedding and reception he and my mother gave to Rick and me 15 years ago this coming week. It's still the best party I have ever been to.

He gave me art, the making of art and an appreciation for people who make art. Now my kids are amazing examples of this legacy, as they spent part of the day outside, painting pictures for their dad on their easels. (The other day, after hearing that my kids have artistic grandparents on both sides of the family, Lola's friend asked me: "Is that where your kids got their art talent? Is this one of those skips a generation things?" Ha!)

He gave me Guinness. Lots and lots of Guinness. When I moved back home as a 24 year old, after spending two years on the East Coast after college, mom and dad had bought an Irish pub. Is there a better way to show your children that good exists in the world and that love shall prevail? I think not.

He gave me sarcasm. A double edged sword, to be sure, but one that has proven to be a primary tool in my own parenting. I am now the victim of sarcastic children too, so this gift is truly dubious, but on the whole, sarcasm and humor have vastly enriched my life and helped me to appreciate the crazy, whacky, impossible experience of life, especially life with children.

He gave me a living, breathing daily example of a person who stands up for what he believes in and stands with the underdog, the nerd, the less privileged, the ignored, the poor, the needy, the unfortunate. He and my mom gave me this together. I hope I'm giving the same gift to their grandchildren...and I think I have a long way to go in this endeavor.

How do you give someone a gift to thank them for all of that? A CD collection of Mystery Theater? A bluegrass album? Doesn't quite get there. I got nothin'.

Happy Father's Day, Dad. I love you more than words can express, but I can say, with certainty, that I will never, ever vote Republican.

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