Thursday, March 20, 2008

Daddy Dearest

It is soon to be my dad’s birthday! Happy Birthday Dad!

I can’t say it enough that I have the best dad God could’ve given me to! We have, not a perfect, but a great relationship. I enjoy talking with my dad and a lot of times, I’ll go to him to work out a situation. I can’t imagine my dad having any enemies ‘cuz everyone seems to like my dad very much. Lately, we’ve added more subjects to our conversations like politics and football and general news.

I wanna say this with all sensitivity to the fact that maybe most people do not have great dads. Maybe they have an okay dad but not the close relationship I enjoy with my dad, maybe they have an abusive dad, maybe they have absolutely no relationship with their dad. They might be some of you out there. I do not praise my dad because I want to rub it in that I have a good relationship with my dad because I don’t want to rub it in.

Katie’s [alias] a good friend of mine who has had a tumultuous relationship with her father. As I understand, he was verbally abusive and drank a lot. It got really bad one night and so Katie moved out of the house. She’s said hateful things about him and I just listened, not knowing anything else to do.

Well, it’s a normal thing for me to talk about what good thing my dad has done recently, but after Katie had moved out, she didn’t want to hear any of it and so our friendship became strained. I think she became bitter in her situation and/or that she thought I was rubbing it in. I didn’t know what to do. It’s not my nature to not talk about my dad and at the same time there was something in my stories about Dad that I wanted Katie to know, only I wasn’t sure what it was or how to say it.

Then I got it. I think it was when Apple graduated and her dad had come to celebrate with her. He lives on another island and so they don’t have much of a relationship at all, but I noticed that Apple didn’t seem bitter about her situation. So I started to ask her about her dad. Then I asked her why she wasn’t bitter.

I very carefully asked her how she feels when I talk about my dad, and she’s seen us together many times. She said that she likes hearing about him because it gave her hope. It shows her that there are good fathers in the world and lets her know that it’s a possibility that she’ll marry a good guy who will be a good father to her children someday.

Ah, my very wise friend! I realized that’s exactly what I was trying to say to Katie but I didn’t know how. And so now, I pray that the hope may pass on to you who reads this and needed to hear it; there are good fathers in the world. And maybe you’re not sure how to be a good father, or mother, and perhaps there is something in my stories that will give you an idea.

Dad has always supported Brother and me in anything that we have done and continues to support us now into the future. Dad coached Brother’s basketball and soccer, drove to every band performance I took part in, and still brings home candy and roses to Mom for Valentine’s Day. Karate, hula, Boy Scouts, PSI (with Mom), Century Bike Ride, Ironman Triathlon set up, volleyball, Campus Life, Space Camp…and the list goes on with activities and ways that Dad has been the leader and supporter of his family.

It doesn’t stop with just his immediate family; Dad is there for anyone who calls on him. My dad is the second and last son among 8 children. He is also the second youngest with one sister after him. Still, especially after his brother’s health began to fail, Dad has filled in the role of “Big Brother” to his sisters for as long as I can remember. If they need to be protected, they trust my dad. If they need something, they know they can always ask my dad. Even when they don’t need anything at all, they enjoy stopping by for a visit and just talk with my dad.

Papa, his father, lived with us for some years and I remember Dad was always gentle with Papa. Later, Grandma, Mom’s mother, came to stay with us and Dad was gentle with her. One of my cousins, whom I’ll call Nina, came to live with us twice. Nina is somewhat one of the “black sheep” of the relatives, and yet when she needs something she comes to my father and he helps in what ways he can; he never turns her down.

Yet, I have the reassurance that no matter who Dad helps, his family always comes first. The first time Nina came to live with us, Dad set some ground rules for her. One of the rules was that her sister, who had been on and off of drugs, was never to visit. He had a young daughter to think of and protect. Well, the sister did come and Nina let her into the backyard, as far as I know they were just talking…and smoking. When Dad saw that, he sent Nina packing. Still, years later Nina was going through a divorce, had a very young daughter with her and no place to go. We took them both in.

I could go on and on with stories about my dad but I’ll save them for another time. I’m gonna end with one of my favorite memories. Mom was watching me play in the playground while Dad was coaching a basketball practice. Dad was unsatisfied with the push-ups that the boys were doing so he calls me over. All the boys were standing around and watched me do push-ups while Dad told them things like, “See how she’s going all the way down and all the way back up again?” and “Notice how she keeps her back flat.” Mind you, I was maybe 6 at the time. I can still do push-ups pretty well actually.

On the surface, Dad was upset with his boys and telling them that if a girl can do push-ups properly, they had better do push-ups properly. No more noodle arms and sagging bellies. Beneath the surface, Dad was telling me several things. He was saying that I could be strong and fit like my brother if I wanted to, I could do what the boys do. He was showing me that doing things the right way is valuable. Most of all, Dad was telling me that he was proud of me, so proud that he wanted others to know it.

Mahalo to all good fathers and good men out there.

A Good Father Playing With His Daughter