At the time of writing this, I had just finished cleaning the dollhouse that my Dad had built for me with his own two hands. My parents had given it to me for Christmas when I was about 6 years old. I fished out all of the doll furniture from a musty box and lovingly placed each tiny piece into the little rooms. Even the wallpaper on the walls of the interior had been fashioned from old scraps of wallpaper from the house I grew up in.
We gave it to my daughter for her 6th birthday.
With Father’s Day approaching, I can’t help but reflect on my own Dad. Every father has a different way of showing their love. My Dad liked making things for others. He was good with his hands and he enjoyed being busy, so it suited him to have a woodworking hobby. This guy was stoic, methodical, quick to laugh and quick to anger. He was strong, both physically and mentally, like most gentlemen of that generation.
My Dad was a work horse who was old school, so it never occurred to me he would get sick. He was diagnosed with Stage IV Prostate cancer in 2002. My Dad saw a lot of good things come to fruition and made good on a lot of promises he had always meant to keep. He forged better relationships with people and came to accept Christ into his life. He was nothing short of a miracle and it was a miracle to witness. I think that’s when I realized how bittersweet life can be.
In my humble opinion, even healthy relationships with fathers can be a fickle thing. Dads have quirks (some more than others) and depending on how these idiosyncrasies manifest themselves, they can drive a particularly large wedge in relationships, especially as children grow up and mature. Dads usually have to work outside the home and are away from their kids as they grow up, further weakening the bond that was so fragile to begin with. Two strikes against dads! I get it! I really do. Pardon the metaphor, but please don’t allow the relationship to strike out.
In my mid-twenties I learned a precious lesson as it relates to my own father-daughter relationship. I paid thousands of dollars in therapy for this little gem and I won’t even charge you! Once you learn to forgive, you are free. Oh, it’s messy work when we focus on ridding ourselves of anger and resentment. And it’s most likely a daily exercise at first. But just like a well-worn bike path, the more times you travel down the path of forgiveness, it gets easier and easier until one day you’re gliding without any resistance.
Are we weak when we forgive and let go? This is a question I asked a lot. The answer is no. Rather, we are empowered when we realize we are responsible for our own emotions and perceptions. If anything, negativity holds us back and adversely impacts the way we are intended to live our lives. I was holding myself captive for years and was oblivious. Perhaps by working on ourselves, our relationships with our fathers become easier, more joyful and dare I say, closer. However, please understand that the relationship or someone’s presence in your life is irrelevant since the only person that really needs to show up is you!
It’s been 7 years since my Dad passed away and I know he’s in a better place now. But there’s a selfish, nagging part of me that wants him to physically be here. I want him to see what our family has become; I think he’d be proud. I would really love for him to fix things around my house because Lord knows my husband isn’t the handy type. Most of all, I wish he could witness my daughter growing up. I wished he could have seen the look on her face when she saw HER dollhouse for the first time. I wanted him to experience the joy and satisfaction knowing what he created over 30 years ago is going to be cherished again.
If you have your Dad, hug him for me. There’s something special about a Dad that no one can replace. Even with all their quirks, they are a part of you and you them.
On Father’s Day and always.