Sunday, June 16, 2013

Precious Papa


When you hear the word Dad, every person has a different picture and perspective of what that three-letter word means to them. I am so very lucky that I have one of the best Dads in the world. Seriously. No doubt.

From the beginning, my Dad has been my world. He is the guy that I looked up to. He is smart, so smart. He is the kind of smart that I think, how did you know that? Or, how can that be so easy for him? I remember a fraternity brother telling me a story about my Dad. While he was attending the University of Virginia, it was a time when everyone had a paper due. All of his fraternity brothers were slaving away—researching, writing, typing, and literally sweating—trying to get their papers done. All the while, my dad is coming in and out of the house, casually doing whatever. They weren’t sure what he was doing. Finally, someone says, “Roger, you know we have a paper due, right? Why aren’t you working on it?” My dad turns around and says, while tapping the side of his head, “It’s all right here,” and walked out of the room. He was that kind of smart. To me, his daughter, he is the smartest man in the world.

My dad is really funny and creative. I sometimes felt like I had Bill Cosby for a dad. (That comment may date me.) He could always make me laugh. He would create characters and act them out. Mainly, they would show up at a time designed to embarrass my sister and me in front of our friends. As he broke into character, our friends would laugh and say, “Your Dad is so funny! He is so cool!” My sister and I, on the other hand, would roll our eyes and drag him out of Barnaby’s Pizza, red faced and whining, "Daaaaad!"  He would laugh and smile, knowing that it would happen again. He loved having fun with me, my sister, and our friends. He hung a swing and trapeze in our basement, set up a stereo system, and built a chalkboard for us to play school. He got us roller skates and bikes and basketball hoops and took us on hikes in the woods. He even filled up the back of his pickup truck with hay and took all the kids around the neighborhood for trick or treating (the houses were spaced far apart, so it was quite a hike for little kids to get around).

And let’s not forget the time that he insisted that we call him “Precious Papa.” He would not answer to anything else. Morgan and I would yell, “Dad!” with no response, likely snickering in his head until we moan, “Precious Papa” in our best annoyed child voices. He would tell jokes or talk in some funny voice, just to see you smile. And watch out, he would hide and jump out to scare you, just to see your shocked face. I learned that trick from the best. Just ask my husband and kids.

If you were to tell him he was handsome, he would laugh you off, but I think he is. He has also always had an eye for fashion. Whether it was bringing home a pretty red dress for my sister and me when we were little girls, or now sending me the latest trendy shoes, I know that I can trust that my Dad will buy me something that I like and will get compliments on.

He is a writer, and a great one at that. He writes poem after poem. Some fun and whimsical and loving that he has written for my sister and me over the years. My dad writes poems that are so deep and intrinsic, that I personally don’t always understand them. That doesn't matter though. I still read every single one that he sends my way. I file it away so that I can pull them up later and read them again. He has written song lyrics about pickup trucks and broken hearts that only need a country singer to write music to them. He has written children’s books. I pull out the printed out copies and read them to my children. They tell me what they think and how they imagine characters and scenes in their little heads. And he has edited almost every single thing that I have written in the past couple of years (except for this, of course).  No complaints, he just does it, and in rapid time, I must say. This guy is good at it.

His intellect combined with his humor and his fashion sense now brings me to his heart. I think he has one of the biggest ones out there. Sure, he will try and hide it with his “Bah Humbugs” at Christmas and his complaints about bad drivers, but we all have his number. My Dad has always, and I mean always, been there for me. He helped me through school when it seemed impossible. I still remember him saying that although he personally could not understand the struggles that I was encountering with my learning disability, he would do whatever he could to help me and make it easier on me. When times were tough, he was always there with a dollar, an ear, or a hug. No matter how big or small my need, I always knew he had my back. When I was younger, it was rides to and from people’s houses, money for pizza, or help with a school paper that I could not seem to make sense of. My dad also went to every single one of my high school basketball games, home and away. One team was a long three-and-a-half hour drive, one way. It didn't matter how much or how little I played, I knew that I could look up into the stands and see his proud, smiling face.

And it is not just his family, he is a giver when it comes to others as well. When the man who worked in his fraternity house in college was having health problems, my Dad was the first to step in. He made sure that all of the paperwork was filled out and sent in that the man's wife needed. And if anyone out there has ever had to deal with Medicaid paper work, you know it is a darn near impossible feat. But there he was, doing paperwork, visiting this man and having others help contribute to the costs. He wanted to make sure that he and his wife were taken care of. He was giving back to a man that had helped them and became an honorary fraternity brother. 

And my mom, his ex-wife, that I am always writing about, he has helped her as well. He sent us money to help with her expenses. She never knew this, but he wanted to do something. No one ever would have expected this kind of gesture. To him, it was a given.

My dad has always been so good to my children. They call him Papa (thank goodness he doesn't require the "Precious" part anymore). They love their Papa. They love to visit him and spend time with him. We all ride the free trolley around town and Papa points things out. Papa takes my son, Jake, to movies that I normally wouldn't. But, that is OK. It is what they do. He buys pretty dresses for Reese, my daughter, and watches her parades that she puts on the basement, just as her mom and aunt used to do 30 years ago. He marks their height on the wall to show them how much they've grown since he has last seen them. He takes us to the beach and braves the ocean waves, teaching them how to boogie board. He sends letters and jokes and funny videos for the kids to watch. He is their Papa, whom they love so.

I know that I could never truly explain all my feelings I have for my Dad. I know I can’t recount all of the wonderful things that he has done for me over the years, for there are far too many. Despite the fact that most of my posts are about my journey with my mother, his love does not get lost. I am so very lucky to have been raised by a father that was always there for me. Raised by a man that loved and respected women and showed this to his daughters. I am lucky that I love talking with and spending time with my Dad, for I know this can be a rare trait. I know the stories of other Dads. Dads that were never around for their children. They didn't throw ball with them or help them with their spelling words. Dads that don’t show up when they said they would, or are full of broken promises. Not my Dad. Lucky me.

Happy Father’s Day to the best Dad a girl could have. I could never thank you enough for all that you have ever done for me. You helped raise me and continue to help guide me through my life. I love you, Precious Papa.

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