Father’s Day is on Sunday, and I’ve scheduled three alarms to make sure I give mine a call that day to avoid the disaster of me forgetting what day of the week it was like I did on Mother’s Day. At least I sent a card then and did so now. Well, postcard. I’m not much of a card sender, but now I have this really cool app that turns my pictures into postcards, and they send reminders when holidays approach.
Yeah, I stink at the whole holiday/birthday/anniversary/any-special-day thing. Along with remembering names, I have a hard time with milestone days, too. For example, I go to the drugstore each month to get my dog’s prescription refilled, and they ask me every time when Mae-Mae’s birthday is as a verification. As the people in line behind me get restless, I dig through my purse, wake up my phone, and scroll through the month of August until I find it in my calendar. Every. Time. But ask me about some obscure historical event, and I can pop off day-month-year and possibly even hour.
I’m odd like that. And I bet if I talked to Dad, he’d say he’s the same way. Just like we’re both spatially oriented on the extreme end of the scale. From jigsaw puzzles to packing the trunk of a car, we have a knack for seeing things organized in a certain way that gets everything in a spot not only so that it all fits with room to spare, but also to help with any other parameter, such as for a long trip, putting the things you’ll need first in easily accessible spots. Yeah, it’s both an art and a science, and I learned it all from Dad.
That’s how I’d define my relationship with him while I grew up…his helper-apprentice. I’d hand him tools, hold the flashlight, pull the golf cart, keep the trash bag open wide. You name it, I was his shadow, watching and learning. Listening, too, but I knew not to repeat certain colorful words and phrases. Eventually, I’d get to do things, too. As I grew older, I got quick lessons, supervised oversight, then left to my own devices to figure it out. Learning to drive a stick shift was five minutes of “watch me and listen to the engine” followed by fifteen minutes of me driving him around in a parking lot, dropping him off at home, and getting told to drive around and not come back for an hour.
That’s the best part about my dad. He gave me the freedom to try things on my own and to make mistakes and learn by myself, always in the background, but ever present if I needed him to help. Thing was, he raised a pretty independent daughter who had learned quite a bit from watching him, so I didn’t often need his help. And if I did, I always knew to just ask, and I’d get the same lessons—always focused on making sure I could do it myself the next time.
So, thanks Dad, for the lessons, and most important, for letting me figure out things on my own. That skill has helped me more in my adult life than anything else.