(Whatever you think about John Mayer, this song rings very true.)
I start out by knowing how incredibly lucky I am to have my father. A very close childhood friend lost her father when we were juniors in high school. It was shocking, and terrible, and it was the first (and only) time I have ever seen my father cry. So please note that anything I say below is also laced with a deep appreciation and love for my dad.
On a scale of one to ten, my relationship with my father falls at a seven or eight. We have a wonderful tradition of going Christmas shopping for my mother every year, a plan I suspect he devised when I went to college so he had an excuse to spend time with me. Then, he buy me dinner. So that is awesome. On the flip side, our politics have started to differ more and more as I have gotten older and this makes it difficult to talk about world events at dinner sometimes. Often. 99% of the time.
My father and I are also a lot alike, which is why I think our relationship can sometimes be so strained. We are both the oldest child, overly headstrong and opinionated. In some ways he is very traditionally male, which obviously irks this modern woman, but I have also seen him don an apron and cook dinner, so it sort of balances out.
I've got some very strange, awesome memories of time with my father, memories that often outweigh the moments that I feel I've let him down with my life choices:
My first memory is of my dad coming home from overseas where he had been working. He was coming to get us (my mother, myself, and my brand new baby brother) so we could go live with him. As we waited in the airport, a man turned the corner and I told my mom that it was dad. She said no, but three-and-a-half-year-old me was quite insistent. He'd lost a lot of weight, having to fend for himself, so Mom didn't really recognize him. Score one for the preschooler!
He once came home after duck hunting, and let his preteen daughter barrage him with questions about the innards of the animal as he dressed and prepped it for a later meal. He also dragged me out onto the deck one snowy morning, while I was still in my pajamas, because he needed to hang a deer of the back deck. This was in high school, and I was less amused.
There was the time he accidentally rear-ended a woman at a stoplight, with my brother and myself in the cab of the truck.
Or the time my brother and I were fighting and my middle finger got slammed in the car door. My father, after making sure I hadn't broken my finger, asked if I had damaged the car in anyway. (That is always my father's de facto response--is the inanimate object okay? I have found myself using this same question with children as well. Thanks, Dad?)
But, I also remember him taking me square dancing with the other Girl Scout dads, even though he absolutely never dances. (Well, except at his 30th anniversary party, and my brother's wedding. At the former, my grandmother yelled at him--"Dance with your daughter!" My hypothetical wedding should be interesting.)
My father really is an amazing person. He and my mom worked a lot of long hours to put me through a private high school that I desperately wanted to attend. He came to get me at college when I was super sick, so I could sleep in my own bed and have someone take care of me. He has rescued me from many homeowner fix-it problems, because while I could figure it out, I would probably do more damage along the way.
In short, fathers can be amazing. If you have your father around, give him a big ol' hug and kiss on Friday, in honor of my dad's birthday. If you aren't speaking to your father...are you okay with that? Is your husband a father? Give him a hug too. And if you are one of those people who has lost your father, I am sending you a cyber-hug from mine. Because he's an awesome guy, and I'll lend him out to anyone who needs a dad.