I have so many emotions related to you. I remember as a child feeling like “daddy’s little girl.” Then when I became a teenager, everything changed. It was about rules and being grounded, and who I could and couldn’t date. I loved you, and sometimes hated you. When I crashed the car I feared you. When I twirled my baton, I wanted your approval.
Mom let us get away with things, and you were the disciplinarian. Even when I moved to Aspen and asked you for money, you said, “You made your bed, now lie in it.” I was so angry at you at the time, but you were right. And now I tell my clients to discipline the same way. You taught me to be responsible for my actions, even if you didn’t always take responsibility for yours.
Though you did criticize us, like saying we were lazy because we always tried to get out of doing the dishes and cleaning our rooms, you told me things that helped me be the strong person I am today. You told me again and again that I was smart, and made me believe that I could do anything. Of course, then you tried to get me to be a model or a secretary. I told you that I had to do more in life. You taught me how to run a business as I helped you with yours, sending out bills and doing the bookkeeping. When I gained a few pounds, you said I looked “healthy,” not fat. I argued with you at the time, but it felt good that you didn’t see me as fat.
You had a little Archie Bunker in you, however. We often argued over social situations and beliefs and politics. For awhile I became as self-righteous as you – a trait I had to work hard at to get rid of. Mom always said I was like you – which often wasn’t meant as a compliment. But our arguing sharpened my skills as a speaker, writer and therapist. It didn’t feel good at the time, but paid off in the long run.
We were the “night” people in the house. Everyone would go to bed and we’d stay up and watch the “late movie” and then the “late late movie.” They say you’re still a “night person” at the nursing home, wandering around late at night and even crawling in bed with women in the middle of the night. That’s another trait of yours, always believing that women want you — even thinking that the nurses are your girlfriends.
I remember your love for music. Although you never sang or played an instrument that I remember, you had your favorite popular singers, Gene Autry and others, and listened to them all the time. Though I didn’t share your love of country music, I love to stay up on the popular songs and sing them. When I tell you that on the phone, you say you’re glad I’m having fun.
We also both love cats, and took in strays as a kid, and I still do – I have 6 cats right now. Though you were a gambler, much to the chagrin of everyone, I’ve gambled more with life and my career than money – sometimes taking risks that were questionable.
Yes, I am my father’s daughter. Mom was right, I am more like you. We both have good and bad in us, like everyone does, and we’ve often been misunderstood. Though I didn’t always like everything you did, I did learn to stand tough and “be my own person” from you.
I’m sorry to see you go. I wish I could make it all better, but I can’t. I love you dad!