Saturday, December 19, 2009

My Father

Big Al.

That's my Dad; Perhaps the most amazing and intriguing man to ever walk the face of the Earth. He is my hero and yet I am scared to death of him..... or, at least, I was....

I can remember as a little girl Dad and I used to play this game. He would lie on his back on the floor and lift his legs to the ceiling and, like a little monkey on a tree, I would crawl and climb and clammer my way up to his feet. I would prop my wee little tootsies right on the soles of his behemoth feet and, balancing ever so carefully, stand as tall as I could hands reached to the sky in victory. Perched on the solid foundation of the most powerful creature I knew, I would sing and dance and strike a pose. I would attempt balancing acts that were humanly impossible knowing that if I even teetered, the soft net of my father would protect me from any harm. By his mere presence, my father empowered me to tempt fate, challenge the possibilities, and fearlessly endeavor to conquer the impossible. At 4 yrs old, I knew I could do anything cause Big Al was right there pushing me towards new heights.

My Dad can do anything, fix anything, he knows just about everything and he sees things when everyone else is standing in blackness. Of course, I didn't realize all of that until recently..... sigh.... He is a big guy, towering over pretty much everyone he ever meets, with a face that is stoic and firm. His lips are set in a line and his posture is erect. Mammoth hands and naturally strong arms warn you that he means business and that only a fool would dare cross him. Sometimes, you might wonder if he is imagining just how to crush you. Until he smiles, that is. And then, his eyes twinkle and and his skin crinkles and you suddenly realize how much pleasure he gets out of intimidating the crap out of people. Dad taught me to shoot a gun and to swim. He taught me to fish and ride a bike. He came to every soccer game he could possibly make, even the freezing cold ones. Once, I guess I was maybe 6 yrs old, he snapped the neck of a dove right in front of me. He offered no apology, just the simple explanation that it was better for the bird. Come to think of it, Dad never offered any apologies for any of life's hard lessons. Why be sorry to learn a lesson? And in fact, you might as well learn it sooner than later in his mind.

Twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays, Dad and I workout together. I can honestly say, that these two hours have become the most precious moments in my week. We rarely talk about anything important but we talk about everything, even when we don't talk. We explore the people we have become and share the thoughts and opinions that shape our choices. I would love to know my dad better. He fascinates me and I feel like if we were ever to sit and tell the stories of our lives, the unedited version, the true and real nitty gritty of our experiences, we would find that we have so much in common it is scary. I would love to hear Dad's stories of love and loss. I would like to hear about the unmentionables and the secret thoughts, regrets, desires and dreams that float around in the cloud of his life. I am pretty sure Dad never envisioned having children and settling into the life that he lived. But, what did he see? What did he want to do that he didn't? And, possibly most importantly, how did he reconcile those two worlds and become the man he is today?

I doubt we will ever have these conversations and that's ok. You see, I can see the acceptance in Dad's eyes. I can see that from the moment we first battled each other in the Clash of the Titans, he knew. He knew I wasn't destined for the life and mold I continued to try to fit into time and time again. He knew my road was going to be hard as hell and I would have to be tougher than the average person to overcome the status quo and have the courage to embrace my life. My father imprinted me from the first time he challenged me to do something I didn't want to. He stared into my stubbornness and begged me to match his intensity. My father poured a lot of love into me. But from the first time I made the journey to the top of his feet and stood victorious, he gave me something else. He gave me the knowledge that more than anyone else in the world he was FOR me and no matter how many times I toppled, I could always climb back to the top. And no matter how hard the climb to the top might seem, he'd be right there, the firm and steadfast foundation he has always been.

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