I never thought I was like my dad. The physical resemblance to my mom is just too striking.
My mother and I look like two peas in a pod. So I thought that meant that I was exactly like my mom in every other way. How could I be any different? We look like the same person. I must be her clone.
And really, we are similar – we are both artists and creative, we both like a good cry and hot tea.
But I suppose, now, if I am truly honest with myself, I have to admit that I am my father’s daughter.
I’ve always been a different person (many of you can attest to that). I’ve never fit in a box. I’ve been called weird more times than I care to elaborate upon and I have quirks whose origin seems stranger than fiction. That is until you look at my father.
I’ve always loved music. And I don’t think it’s any fault of my own. I remember early Saturday mornings, waking up to the sound of my father singing Elton John at the top of his lungs. While my brothers would trail down the stairs after me – feet sluggishly sticking to the floor – I would throw myself out of my room and fly down the stairs, skipping the last couple steps, banging with a huge plop on the landing to join my dad. “Tiny DAAANCER IN MY HAAAAAND!” My brothers would then slink over to the table to inhale some pancakes and roll their eyes at the serenade. It never seemed to matter what they thought. Not to us.
And my dad has a beautiful voice – pipes and some wind to back it up. In church he used to sing beside me. I would look up at him, almost five feet above, and try to imitate the volume and passion with which he sang. It didn’t matter who heard he just sang with his whole heart.
And there are so many other things. My fingers square off at the end like his, not gently pointing like my mothers. My dad and I are both athletic but never fail to get hit in the face with a ball during a game. We love taco salad. We both want to be neat… We both cry at funerals even if we don’t know the person. And we both like to DANCE!
I can still recall, with amazing clarity, the sight of him walking in the door at the end of the day. I remember the thrill of seeing his happy smile walk toward us. I remember him bending down to kiss my mom and then… He would dance. In the middle of the kitchen, often strewn with our homework and toys and various projects, my father would begin his dancing. I remember the feeling of release and pure joy that came with being swept up in the goofy galloping of my father’s steps. In the kitchen, on the goal line, in the store. No matter where it was, my dad new how to break it down and let loose.
And I still do this. Whenever I hear the strange rhythms of a latin tune or the melodic weavings of an old song my body starts to sway and move and jive in the most irrepressible way. Andrew pointed this out to me once when we were in Target.
“Yeah, you do this weird butt scoot thing. You know? Like you stick your butt out and then you scoot your feet back.”
“No I don’t!”
“Uh…yes you do. All the time.”
But it’s not something I’m ashamed of. It’s something that I’m proud to imitate. Because dancing always meant one thing to me about my dad.
His joy – his uncontainable joy – taught me to be happy with myself no matter what, no matter who was looking. It’s what taught me to abandon the foolish notion that I was supposed to be anyone else but myself. It taught me to live life, love it and never look back.
So thank you Dad. Thank you for music and singing. Thank you for smiles and weird faces. And thank you for dancing.
Maybe one day we will walk along and hear the familiar pulse of an old tune and perhaps then 6 joyful feet will scoot together – You, me, and little Clare.
Happy Father’s Day!