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I’m pretty sure the most important relationship in a woman’s life is the one she has with her father. A father shapes and molds his daughter in a way so important, it paves the path of her life. Father’s Day has come and gone this year, but I feel so privileged and special to have the dad I have that I wanted to honor him in the Cheekiest way possible.
It was dark. Only pieces of sunshine were outlining the drawn shades, creating squares of light. I played quietly in the corner while the other kids napped. I was not required to nap at pre-school per my mother’s request. She’s always been a rule breaker. As I played with a worn out He-Man action figure, I realized my tiny shoe was not buckled. Very worried about this, I approached Miss Linda and asked her to buckle it for me. She refused – said I had to figure it out myself. That’s when the tears started. Quiet tears as to not wake the napping children. I was not disrespectful of authority… yet. Seemingly moments later, the dark outline of a man walked into the room. I recognized him even though I couldn’t see his mustache in the dim light. “Daddy!” I softly exclaimed, excited to be saved from this place. “Will you help me buckle my shoe?” He bent down and buckled it, no questions asked. “There you go, honey,” he said. Then he scooped me up and I looked back at the slumbering kids as I bounced in his arms. Off we went. To where, I don’t remember.
The shoe buckling story is the earliest memory I have of my dad. In a way, not much has changed since then. He got rid of that mustache finally (it was the early 80s, I can’t judge) and he doesn’t call me ‘honey’ very often anymore, but he still saves the day, no questions asked, swooping in like a super hero, then flying away before I can even say “Thank you.” That’s the true test of a caped crusader.
I feel lucky to have had an intact family growing up. We all may have been (and still are) crazy, but at least we were crazy together. My dad was always around. He’d chaperone field trips to the museum and I’d sit with him on the bus instead of in the back with my friends… because he was awesome. He’d buy the group of kids he was in charge of McDonald’s for lunch (he’s a rule breaker, too). He’d be home for dinner and appease me when I insisted we all eat by candlelight (ah, the romantic yearnings of a seven-year-old). He even let me name our dog Madonna. Don’t get me wrong, there were rules; but as both of my parents taught me – rules were made to be broken. My dad was the kind of dad for which the phrase “wait ‘til your father gets home” was invented. Not in an abusive way, but in a fear-of-disappointing-him way. I still strive to make Dad proud. I have definitely failed in many ways, but you’d never know it if you asked him.
I learned my most important life skills from my dad. How to talk to anybody and give a firm handshake. How to not take no crap from nobody and appreciate old movies. How to throw a baseball and eat spaghetti with a big spoon. How to laugh at anything, and perhaps most importantly, how to get a table at a packed restaurant. The older I’ve gotten, the closer we’ve become. We talk almost everyday. We meet for lunch. We see Broadway shows together. We laugh at the same things. We talk each other through crises. Even as I write this, I feel there are not enough words in any language to honor him the way he deserves. So I guess these will have to do. Happy Father’s Day to my hero – the greatest man I know – who I can still turn to when things are dark and my shoe is unbuckled.