I was lucky enough to have dinner with my dad tonight. Lucky for two reasons: first, because I have a dad (and one who wants to spend time with me); and second, because my dad is just wonderful.
Years ago, my cousin Katie told me how lucky I was to have a dad who was so interested in everyone and in what they were doing and thinking and feeling. At the time, I remember telling her to be careful what she wished for; when you are young, of course, the last thing you want is any scrutiny from your dad about your thoughts or feelings or deeds! But more often than not, I realize what a gift that is. Even though my parents divorced when I was four – or possibly because they did – my dad has always made a point to keep himself abreast of what we were doing (and, yes, what we were thinking and feeling).
Part of his ability to “pry” details out of us probably comes from his education. My dad was trained in two places well known for their ability to get to the bottom of the matter: the seminary and the FBI Academy. But his skills go beyond mere interrogation and on to Socratic questioning, defined by one internet site as “[getting] the other person to answer their own questions by making them think and drawing out the answer from them.” That’s my dad in a nutshell.
I’d like to share some of the key things I took from dinner with my dad tonight:
- He is willing to be honest with me, even if he is afraid it might hurt.
- I need to look closely at why I judge myself so ruthlessly.
- I need to give myself permission to mourn when bad things happen.
- He has incredible confidence in me.
- He loves me exactly the way I am, and if anybody thinks I need to change in any way to be lovable, they can take a flying leap as far as he is concerned. (His language might have been a bit more picturesque.)
- He is on my team, and not just because I am his flesh and blood (and he’d be offended if I thought so), but because he has a genuine appreciation for who I am.
- I am grateful for every minute we get to spend together.
He would not look kindly on my juding myself, but I have felt terrible about the fact that I have still not finished putting together his 70th birthday present after more than two years. It is a scrapbook collection of notes and cards and letters from friends and family, sharing stories and wishes. I have the raw material, but I am being too darn particular about layouts (and my digital scrapbooking skills have not kept up with the times or the software).
Luckily, he reads my blog. So, Dad, I just shared a story about the two of us. My wish for you? All the love in the world.
Consider my heart lightened tonight.