Numbering the Stars: My Dad

Each night during our walk, my dog Ozzie and I number the stars, and each star is like counting off a blessing or message from Father. I like to record them here.

Today is my dad’s birthday. My kids and I celebrated by calling him at the end of nearly every class to sing to him. And as we did, I thought about a story I read a million years ago in Seventeen magazine.

The story was written by a girl who had a terrible relationship with her father, who was an alcoholic. One day, she and her father were flying kites, and she got hers, which she had painted herself, stuck in a tree. Her father was frustrated with her, and after scolding her, he cut the outing short and went home. Much later, after the girl had gone to bed, her father went back, climbed the tree, cut the string, and brought back the kite.

The author recounted her thoughts on waking up the next morning to find the kite, which she thought was lost to her forever, sitting in her living room. She said:

I didn’t have the kind of dad who played games with me. I didn’t have the kind of dad who hugged me and told me he loved me. But I realized then that I did have the kind of dad who would go back for the kite.

My relationship with my own father has had its ups and downs. He’s far from perfect, and when I was a young girl, he was even farther. He has a temper. He’s bossy. He overreacts. He’s made serious mistakes. But he’s also the kind of dad who would go back for the kite. He cares. He’s there when I need him, whether I have an urgent need for him to drive across the country or just a question about my car.

He was there when I found out my Grampa, my other father, had died. When I most needed a Dad, mine was there, not only to love me and hold me and wipe my tears, but also to distract me with the printing press of a major newspaper (a tailor-made Meg distraction) and take my thoughts someplace painless for awhile.

No, he’s not perfect, but he is the kind of dad who would go back for the kite or take a midnight trip to a printing press, and I’m grateful that he’s mine. Happy birthday, Dad. I love you.

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