Sunday, June 21, 2009

My Daddy

I don't get to see my Dad as much as I would like. Mostly, it's my own fault for moving to Colorado. I moved here in the hopes of a better family life for my kids, but did so at the expense of many things. We left behind some amazing friends, the Southern California climate, a house that I loved and my family. The thing that I miss the most about California isn't the beach, or Disneyland, or warm winters even. It's my Dad.

He's still working, still owns the lab. Though his hours are less these days and he doesn't work as hard as he used to, he's still there. He still deals with the realities of owning his own business. When it's good, it's great. When it's bad, it's terrible. There is no larger entity to absorb the profits and losses - it's all him. And that level of responsibility and accountability comes with a price. He doesn't take a vacation very often. He knows all too well what happens when he leaves for more than a few days, and so do we. We went on a few big family vacations when I was a kid, and we always came home to fewer clients than we left with. I wish that the doctors weren't so fickle. That they could understand that as much as they think they need him to be available 24/7, he needs a break too. Hell, they take vacations weekly it seems. Why can't he?

Partially because of the lab, I don't get to see him very often at all. He sends Mom out here to see the kids every few months - and he tries to live vicariously through her. If she sees us, then he feels like he sort-of does too. It's too expensive for both of them to come out here all the time, so he sends her. We haven't been to California in a couple years. Last summer I was pregnant, and it just wasn't going to work this year for us to go financially. I wish we could.

It's funny how having kids of my own makes me think about things differently. It has taught me lessons that my Dad tried so desperately to teach me before, and I refused to learn. I thought for so many years that I was right, and he was wrong. I know now that in many, many ways I was sorely mistaken. We disagreed about just about everything at times, it seems. I wish in some ways that I could go back and pay attention better. That instead of arguing and rebelling I could instead listen.

I wish that I had made more time to just sit and talk to him when I was there. That I had been better about carving out time in my schedule when I was in college to come home a little more often. If only I would have known how much I would miss him now, I would have.

Distance is a hard obstacle to overcome, for sure. But in some ways, I truly believe that the distance has brought us closer. We don't talk on the phone often - he's just not that kind of person, but when we do, we almost always talk. We don't just discuss the trivial things like the weather and sports. We talk about important things. How I need his guidance sometimes with making tough decisions about the kids. How the business is really doing. How he is.

I remember one particular phone conversation very vividly. It was the day that I left California, with a car full of kids, for a new adventure. Tears streaming down my face, I called him. And I begged him to tell me that I was doing the right thing. That moving was the right thing to do. He simply told me that I was doing what I needed to do. I was doing what was best for my children, and that's all he ever tried to do. And that I needed to go. Things would work out, it would be okay. He never once told me to stay, though I am sure he wanted to.

I know now that the hardest part of being a parent is letting go. And I know that you no matter how old you may be, you never stop needing your Daddy. It's days like today that I miss you the most, Dad. I love you. Happy Father's Day.

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