My father was not the type of man a child honors on Father’s Day. My father was a heartless and cruel abuser in every sense of the word. But rather than dwell on his heinous treatment of me, I choose to focus my attention where it belongs today – on the real men of the world.
The good men, the good fathers, the good daddies that love their children unconditionally. Some people think that because of my brutal experience with my father that I dislike men or that seeing fathers with their daughters would somehow upset me. I can assure you, it’s quite the opposite. Nothing makes me happier than to see a father and daughter sharing a tender moment or an exchange of love and laughter playing peek-a-boo.
I want to take a moment and thank all those dads who never knew the gift they were bestowing upon me as I watched from behind a tree or peeking up from a magazine I happened to be reading in the doctor’s office or as I sat drinking a glass of wine in your living room with your wife who happens to be my friend. You never knew I was watching along with the little girl inside of me as you were just being a dad – a great dad.
Thank you –
for whispering words of encouragement in her ear so she never hears those of cruelty and anger;
for hoisting your little girl high above your head, flying her through the air so she can feel the untethered freedom of flight and never know bonds of control;
for contorting your body into the most uncomfortable of positions to fit into that tiny chair to participate in the tea party she took so much time planning, arranging and rearranging and nurturing her imagination so doors will open before her instead of imprison her;
for wiping her tears with tenderness after each and every fall and extending your strong hands to uplift and not cast down;
for listening to the tales of her sad and broken heart when the boyfriend du jour chooses someone else to invite to the dance and embracing her in love so she never feels the terror or the strangulation of force;
for taking her arm in yours, walking her down the aisle and placing her hand and your trust into the those of another man, the man she has chosen to spend her life with so she knows true love is sharing in her happiness and not in controlling her destiny.
Mostly, thank you for sharing your world with me and giving me a glimpse of what a real father looks like; what a little girl’s childhood should look like.
Thank you for letting me hear the giggles of delight when you lovingly tickle her little tummy, the squeals of excitement as you squirt bath water on her from her favorite water toy, and for allowing me to see the innocence in her eyes because that for me is the most important.
Her eyes hold no fear toward you, they are filled only with love and adoration for a father that she knows will put her life before his, protect her from all the dragons and boogey men in the world, check the closet for monsters for the tenth time in as many minutes and stroke her forehead as she drifts off into a peaceful slumber afforded only to those children who have nothing to fear.
We, as little girls, grow up learning of the heroic deeds of policemen and fireman, soldiers and conquerors and dragon slayers and beast tamers but fathers, real-life, ordinary dads, they are the real heroes of the world. They are the ones brave enough to cry when they’re sad and strong enough to ask for help when things get too heavy for them to shoulder on their own.
And you, kind, gentle men, are what your daughters will seek out when they go to choose their partner for life – someone that’s a lot like their father, their dad, their hero.