I have been a daddy’s girl since the second I opened my eyes for the first time and saw him standing there. If I imagine the moment I see my dad with that special smile of his that lights his eyes, that laugh that can make a person feel good, and twinkling blue eyes promising all the secrets in the world.
I don’t talk much about my family individually. Mostly because I respect their privacy and don’t ever want them to be hurt in any way by the words that I write. It is one of the reasons no one has my blog address. I don’t want them to read my personal diary and then take it upon themselves to assume who and what I am. My words are only for my own heart, and my own peace of my mind. I share it in a world forum, not for fame or for any need for recognition, but because the words tend to take more weight when I have to use them in a way that is rational. And I am very rarely rational.
Growing up my daddy was larger than life. He wasn’t there often. I am not sure to this day where he actually went, although as I grew up I would hear stories. He was funny, dangerously attractive, athletic and popular as only a woman’s man could be. And he was a woman’s man. There isn’t a memory in my life with my dad that doesn’t include a woman, and I am not talking about my mother. He likes women, he loves women, he adores women. And they adore him right back. He has always had the presence, the looks and the money to pull it off (Think James Bond in any era).
But for me, he was my dad. Willing to drop everything to make sure I was safe. He taught me basketball and golf (he tried tennis but that wasn’t going to work). He would let me crawl into his lap and watch Winnie the Pooh thousands of times in a row. Those are the memories I hold onto. The truth is there aren’t that many. I have many more memories of my mother, and a lot of memories of going to the airport in my pjs to meet him as he came back from some trip. I learned quickly never to ask for gifts…although he always had one.
In the background where I couldn’t see, my father was a womanizer and never faithful to my mom. My mother dealt with it in her own way, and now at this age I have come to realize it isn’t my place to question why my mother did what she did; staying married to the man for twenty years. I only need to be thankful that she loved me and was there for me.
My eyes were opened to my father when I was fifteen. He and my mom finally decided to get a divorce, and all of a sudden a whole new world opened up. All of a sudden there my father was, flirting with other women when he was supposed to be taking me for ice cream. All of sudden the parade of women were introduced to me, instead of hidden from me. Don’t get me wrong, while it was my father’s idea to finally get divorced he did so in a way to protect my mom completely, and never missed a day of child support. In fact, when he got a raise, my mother always got a child support raise, without the courts involvement.
But the world change that year. I began to see the reality of my dad. I began to see that there was a difference between the man and my dad. I began to understand that everything that I thought about my dad was seen through the colored glasses of a child; and for the first time that year the illusion was literally thrown off and I was thrust from the naiveté of childhood, to the danger of adulthood. And that world of adulthood was strange, it was dangerous, colorful, loud and there was no single step into it; but rather a push, a thrust, into a world that my protected and safe cocoon couldn’t prepare me for.
My father is a complex man who is quite simple. He loves his children, although he will use them to his own purpose. (He brags about us to win points with women.) He will always come when we need him, not for any altruistic purpose but as a way for him to show us that he is the best dad in the world. He dresses nicely, he has exceptional manners, and he treats people – old, young, babies, white, black, etc – like they are the most beautiful and wonderful people in the world. And what is strange is that he honestly believes that whoever he is talking to at that moment is great, he just won’t necessarily think about you once you left. He is brilliant at giving the illusion, and you will never know that as he turns his head that illusion is gone.
I don’t know his history, which is strange for a daughter. I have seen his byline on some of the world’s most prestigious papers, writing investigating stories that rocked the very foundation of some of our history. I remember rules in my house designed specifically to protect me (and not the normal rules for most kids – but rather code words, and other red flags). I have seen him on shows such as “60 Minutes” being interviewed. I have seen him in uniform and being called “Lieutenant” by those with more strips than I could count quickly. He has famous friends, he has pictures that defy description. He has a whole world that is cooler than you could ever imagine.
But I don’t know his history. I don’t know if he was any of the things that he has bragged about. I don’t know if he ever served in the military, although part of the proof is there. (My mother has no memory of him being in the military). I don’t know the stories he wrote, although I have seen the awards hanging on walls. I don’t know who or what my father is, because I simply can’t figure out the truth or the fiction about this incredible man. I read once that true heroes don’t ever tell anyone they are heroes, and somewhere inside of me I hope it is as simple as that. He brags about everything else, but he just won’t brag about being a hero or maybe he won’t brag about being real. Or maybe he is so used to throwing up smoke screens, that none of it is what it seems.
I don’t know, and part of me doesn’t care. He is my father, and the one thing I have never doubted is that he loves me. He loves me in only a way he can. For my father I will never be enough of what I could be, but he doesn’t want me to change either. It is a dichotomy that I have lived with my whole life. And despite his love, his very presence in my life, he controls so much of it even know. My problems with my self-confidence can almost directly be seen as his problems with my self. He has such an amazing influence over me, and yet he is in so many ways a ghost to me. I will never be able to reconcile my vision of my dad with the reality of who and what he is. There are clues, but no answers. There are dreams, but too much time to be wide awake. There are so many thoughts, but no evidence to prove any of it.
I am writing about him today because he has brought me another one of his bombs. It doesn’t directly affect my life, although hopefully it won’t affect my children’s either. I am writing today because for every time I have ever wished for a normal and comfortable father, I was reminded that life doesn’t work that way. I am constantly forced to realize that I love the dad, but really have no understanding of the man. I am constantly in battle recognizing that the earth while round is very thin where he is concerned. I am constantly striving to be my own, when the greatest influence in my life has always been smoke and mirrors. I am constantly battling a foe that has been and will always be the daddy that so easily made me laugh.
I know without a shadow of doubt that my father loves me. I know without a shadow of doubt that my daddy is a great father. And somewhere deep inside I am going to have to forgive my dad for being real…or whatever his version of real really is. I am going to have to forgive him for being him; for being a man who loves the stories, the women, and the attention. I am going to have to find a way to understand that to him I am neither a story, a woman, or part of the attention his so desperately needs. I am going to have to forgive him for being human instead of the great prince I put on that pedestal so long ago.
And at the end of the day the lesson is important, not for the future between my dad and I; but because there is a realtionship developing with my own children that will be nothing but real. I don’t want to be on their pedestal, but I won’t be the reason they fall either.
A beautifully written piece. Tragic and inspiring all in one, but a wondrous showcase of a daughter’s love. Your dad is a very lucky man.