A Special MPS Entry: Father’s Day

I usually don’t post on Sundays, or any other day aside from Mondays and Thursdays, but today I feel compelled to do so because today is Father’s Day. Now believe me, I’m not usually the overly sappy type. Sentimental, yes, but not really sappy. But today is different simply because today is a day devoted to fathers everywhere, and I don’t necessarily have one. Rather, I don’t have one physically here with me.

At age two, I lost my mom in a fight against breast cancer. And at the time, I don’t think it really affected me simply because I was so young. And so my brothers and I learned to live a life in which we relied on our grandmother and aunts to give us that motherly care that society told us we would never get from our father. But society was wrong about my dad. Five years of dedication was what I saw my dad give after my mother’s death. I can’t say that I have ever felt so loved by any person, and I do have people in my life who genuinely care about me, however few and far between [I may feel] they be. The story is as follows:

After giving birth to my older brother Christopher, my daddy prayed that God would bless him with a little girl. I don’t exactly know why he wanted a little girl. Maybe he wanted someone to spoil with little dresses and all that “sugar and spice and everything nice” stuff. Or maybe he wanted someone who looked exactly like his wife, a little girl who could possibly be the first female president or a famous civil rights activist or something. Whatever the reason, my father wanted a little girl more than anything to balance out the growing house dominated by testosterone.

Well, be careful what you wish for.

After four years, on a cold February day, my mother got the news that she was pregnant…and that her child was due the next day…

True story. I’m not lying to you. This is too crazy of a story for it NOT to be true. So it is. Ask my family.

Anyway, after praying for a little girl, my daddy got exactly what he wished for: a baby girl, his pride and joy; and he got her in the most exciting, surprising fashion any father or mother could ever dream of getting news of a pregnancy. Of course, with only 24 hours to prep for my entrance to the world, you can just imagine how crazy things got.

Still, I’m certain that my father was by far the happiest man in the world on that February night when I was brought into that whitewashed hospital room. And he certainly treated me like I was his prized possession. He treated all of us like we were his prized possessions.

He may not have been able to give us everything, but he did his best to provide for his family. I didn’t have fancy clothes. I never got that pony I probably begged for (though I don’t think I ever actually wanted a pony). I didn’t get every toy or every piece of candy, but I did receive every ounce of love that man could give me and my brothers. I got every smile, every broom chase, every tickle session, every tricycle lesson, every laugh, every air-tent, every home-cooked meal (and the occasional trips to McDonald’s or Krystal’s), every birthday cake all from that man. And yes, sometimes I got stern looks and spankings and reprimands and disciplines and all the other harsher aspects of parenting, but every look and every belt to my little butt was out of love. (And as a quick disclaimer: no, my father didn’t abuse me. I was only spanked like, 2 or 3 times. Just for clarification.)

My dad was like my best friend. He helped me learn how to read. He was present for all the big moments. He picked me up and never let me fall. He was there for every step he could be present for. And when you lose that…it’s hard. Being a seven-year old without a father was hard. Being 20 now without a father is still hard. But they say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And I think I am stronger. Not that my life has become a piece of cake because it honestly hasn’t. What college student’s life is actually easy? But I am stronger.

This Father’s Day, I’m remembering a man who tried his best to be a man and take care of his kids the best he knew how. Sure, I wish he had never tried to do my hair and put it in a little puff-ball on top of my head (which only led to humiliation from my brother who would grab said puff-ball and treat it like a stick shift…car noises and all), but the pink brush he used to do my hair everyday was my favorite brush until its disappearance a few years ago. It’s not easy being a single mom, but it may potentially be harder to be a single dad.

When your only concern is the well-being of your children and you’d do anything to ensure their care and safety, then you know you’re doing a good job as a parent. Sure, my dad worried everyday that I’d grow up to be the world’s biggest tomboy, but I’m not. Yes, I still have some of that “tomboyish” charm from growing up in a house full of boys (I hate wearing dresses and skirts; jeans are God’s gift, and I will embrace that gift until the day I die), but I still have female role models (two of which sit on two completely opposite ends of the feminine spectrum).

So, Daddy, here’s to you. I still have one of your shirts from your work uniform. I’m never going to give it away, and sometimes I put it on just to feel like you’re hugging me. Your dream of putting your artistic abilities to work as an architect has been instilled in me (only not as an architect. As is typical with we Bells, I am studying the humanities. Who knew that I’d be the theatrical, child/family studies, photography type, right?). I promise to work hard and remember all the good times. I promise to do my best to find a husband who will fill your shoes as a man and as a father (though you set the bar so high that I don’t even know if that’s possible). I promise to keep my legs closed when I’m wearing dresses and to hold my head high and maintain my self-respect.

Don’t worry about me, Daddy-o. I think Chris and Marc and I have turned out fine, and we’re going to continue to love you and Mama and do our best to make you both proud. Today’s about you, and trust me, I will never forget how hard you worked to be the best father out there. And though you’re not right here next to me, you’re still with me wherever I go. Happy Father’s Day.

Day 13 - Sun. June 19

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