Sunday, July 21, 2013

I'm officially married to my father, and that's not a bad thing

Not actually, of course.

Before this gets weird, I must remind everyone that the man I am married to bears absolutely no relation to anyone in my family except by marriage, and that my father died two years ago.

And yet, a few nights ago, when my husband took the kids upstairs at bedtime to help brush teeth and tuck them in, I heard my Dad.

Someone had left a window open for the sole purpose of air conditioning the outside.

Someone else had left all the lights on just to run up the electricity bill.

I laughed, because I grew up hearing the same things from someone else a long time ago. Posted a status to that effect on my Facebook page, which elicited many comments from people experiencing a similar phenomenon.

My 24th birthday - 2001
My Dad on the left, husband on the right.
At some point yesterday, my husband said something about how my comment upset him.

A bit confused, I asked why.

He assumed that any comparison between him and my father was bad.

I shook my head. Quite the contrary.

Then I looked him in the eyes and asked him a few simple questions, ones that he should be well equipped to answer having known me over twenty years, most of that time having my father as a presence in my life.

Have I ever acted like anything my father did was wrong? Have I ever talked about things he did in a negative way? Have I complained about him?

He replied that I hadn't.

Then I asked him another question. Then why would you assume it's a bad thing that you're like him?

He understood. Or at least I think so.

My father was a good man. He was far from perfect, this much is true. There were rough times in my childhood and adolescence with him. Sometimes he drank too much, sometimes he yelled too much, sometimes he wanted me to stay young and naive so badly that he tried to control me too much.

Looking back on it all now, with the knowledge and perspective I have now, not just as a parent myself, but with a fuller picture of how his life actually was, I understand. Considering all the things he had to deal with, not just in an episodic way, but on a daily basis, I understand.

He was actually quite remarkable once you put the pieces together, once you see everything he had to do, everything he had to live with from his past. The fact that he was able to keep it together almost all the time says something profound about who he was.

We never fought for long, him and I, not even when I was a teenager. We both had tempers, we both argued, we both fought, but we both would wake up the next morning knowing that it was a new start and that at the end of the day we struggled so much because we were so alike.

My father had a much greater sense of family,of duty, of obligation than I ever appreciated when he was still here. I see it now because of how much things have changed in this world without him.

I've had more than a few moments since he left us that I realized just how amazing he really was.

All the same could be said about the man I built my family with.

And so, I hope that when I say something about how my husband reminds me of my father, he understands that it comes from a place of love and respect. It comes from a girl who misses her dad, and smiles when she hears something her father used to say to her come from a different voice. That the comparison can never, and will never be anything but a compliment.

It seems at times that I'm officially married to my father, and that's not a bad thing.

Not at all.

In fact, I'm pretty sure that somewhere out there, because of this, my Dad smiling right now.

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