My mom came over last weekend and we had our normal every day life talks. I started telling her about all of the things I’m passionate about. Mostly things like being an activist, speaking out for those that don’t have a voice, standing up for what I believe in and of course getting involved in certain peaceful protest. Key word there is peaceful. Anyways, somehow we got on the subject of the protest during the Vietnam war and she looked at me, laughed and said, “You know, you’re becoming the kind of person your father use to dislike.”
She didn’t say it in a mean way and I knew exactly what she meant. As I stated in one of my previous blogs, my dad was in the Vietnam war and was hated by many for just doing his job. I can see why he’d dislike those people. They weren’t just protesting the war, they were protesting him and had no problem expressing their hate toward him. I don’t think there are very many people on earth who would like someone that hates them.
I started thinking on this more today while I was having lunch with my husband. As we were sitting at our table, we looked around at all the people. I don’t normally pay much attention to what others are doing but I’m always very much aware of my surroundings. I noticed a father and teenage daughter sitting silently next to each other patiently waiting for their food. I already knew their story. The newly single/divorced father with his daughter that he only gets to see every other weekend now and the daughter trying to figure out how to have a relationship with this man that she feels she hardly knows now. Divorce changes people a lot and it changes the way kids see their parents, at least in some cases it does. I know the story because I lived that story. Except I actually lived with my dad for some time about 2 years after my parents divorced. Being a teenage girl and being raised by your father is a challenge for both parties involved. My father had no clue how to deal with me and I had no idea on how to really talk to him.
I really tried to talk to him as if he were my mom. I came home from school one day and I asked him about this drug I heard some kids talking about. I just asked him if he wouldn’t mind telling me about it. His words were, “Why do you need to know about that? You’re not doing it, end of story.” I pretty much got the same answer when I approached him about sex but the look on his face was a bit more intense. So our conversations were mostly about cars, sports, school, and work. I learned how to spend time with him on his terms. For instance, he worked on his truck, boat or motorcycle just about every weekend. So I’d go sit outside with him and ask him questions about everything he was doing while handing him tools that he would need. I also learned how to shine boots, fish, put coins in those little coin holders and play a mean game of rummy and horse while attempting to spend time with him. I cherish these moments so much more now because as I got older I understood him more. He was a single father who had no freaking clue on how to raise a teenager led alone a teenage daughter. What I cherish the most is that I know he tried his best and gave his all.
Our relationship developed a lot more the older I got. He opened up to me more when he saw that I was able to handle things better than he thought. I think he just really wanted me to stay his little girl as long as possible. So as I watched this father and daughter sit at the other table I started thinking about what my mom had said the weekend before and that led me to think about all the things I never got a chance to ask my dad about. Then I started thinking about my sister. I didn’t know I had a sister until I was in 3rd grade I believe. She lived in a different state and I think my dad was afraid to tell me because he wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to meet her. I always wanted a sister and when I finally did meet her I was filled with excitement. She was this amazingly beautiful person and all I could think about is how I wanted to be just like her when I grew up.
My sister and I have a lot of the same beliefs and what’s so odd about that is how I didn’t even really see that until recently. Maybe I just didn’t pay much attention to it before because I was still trying to figure myself out. Then it hit me, my father had two hippie daughters with similar ideas that were raised completely different from one another. I couldn’t help but laugh. My father has two daughters that ended up being the people he use to dislike. But oh how he loved us and was so proud of the people we had become.
In that moment, I could clearly see that smug grin he’d always give me when I had just proven him wrong. In that moment, I missed him more than I have in the past 3 years.