They are strong but gentle. They adore the women in their lives, and treasure and admire them accordingly. They always seem to know the right thing to say. Their patience runs as deep as the ocean. They know when to hold their tongue or look the other way and when to offer their advice. They indulge on a regular basis.
When we confound them they don’t hold a grudge or give us grief. They genuinely want to understand us because we fascinate them. They love us even when we make them crazy. They are the men we love in return.
My father and my husband, while men who grew up during different times, share the same traits.
I couldn’t ask for a better father. Growing up my dad made me believe I was the most beautiful, bright and special daughter a father could ever want even though I was a funny looking, gangly little slip of a thing. My mother tells me he helped potty train me, sitting on the bathtub ledge as long as necessary reading a book and offering encouragment while I got the hang of what needed to be done. I clearly remember how he taught me to ride a two-wheel bike, calming my fears when I was convinced I’d lose my balance and hurt myself. He invited me onto the patio on hot summer nights and engaged me in conversations just to see and hear how I formed my opinions. Along with my mother, he encouraged me to be anything I wanted to be and celebrated every victory no matter how small.
When during my senior year in high school no boy saw fit to invite me to the prom, my father conferred with my mother and came up with a plan. My braces newly removed, my colt-like figure still acquiring grace he knew my ego could bruise like a peach. He told me that boys my age were incapable of fully appreciating my charms and invited me to join him on a business trip to Washington DC on what would have been prom weekend. Distracted by visits to the Smithsonian and other monuments I was able to forget what was taking place on the school grounds and in the gymnasium.
The night of the dance, in my own hotel room, I felt like a grown-up lady for the first time. I put on a lovely hot pink jersey dress and brushed on some blush and mascara. I accompanied my father to a trendy Georgetown restaurant and sipped on my first glass of wine. We talked about history and politics while a jazz band played in the background. Organza and corsages aside, I felt more important than a silly old prom queen. To this day, I don’t regret missing the event because that D.C. trip made me realize that a dance is just a dance, but having a loving father who helps make happy memories is something you keep close to your heart your whole life through.
My father also taught me the meaning of a good man. When I was older, I was fortunate enough to find someone cut from the same cloth. As I’ve said many times before, my husband is the best there is, a prince among men who treats me like a precious and rare flower.
As readers know, I’ve long lamented that my husband and I were unable to conceive and deliver little ones whom he could dote on, no children of our own who would benefit from his kindness, playfulness and generosity. You see by the time we stepped off the infertility treatment merry-go-round we’d reached an age when adoption agencies start looking for younger parent material. At the same time we were so exhausted emotionally and financially from the infertility intervention that we decided we needed time to heal and see about a different kind of life, one that didn’t include prying third parties or judgmental committees, a chance to see how we might fit in the world in a new and different way.
I get to keep my husband all to myself, and for him I’m grateful, but it took me years not to tear up and get emotional when I saw my guy teaching our friend’s kids how to skip stones or shoot a basket or make popcorn the old fashioned way. I still marvel that some parents happen by chance while others never get the same chance.
Then there was this past Tuesday. While my mother was in the hospital recovering, my now frail father snuck off on an errand. When I came downstairs ready to accompany him to mom’s room for visiting hours, he presented me first with a beautiful corsage in honor of my birthday — two lovely flowers in shades of pink that matched the pink sweater I had chosen for the day. To say I was choked up would be an understatement. Clearly, I’m still his little girl and, by chance, what a fortunate one I am.
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I’m happy to report that my mother was released from the hospital at the end of this week, but not before my husband flew in to offer his support. You can be sure that we made a fuss over my dad on this father’s day. With my mother and my husband on hand we grilled and toasted dad’s caring dedication to his family.
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Today starts Mel’s Commentathon to foster community and support among those fighting the many ordinary and life-changing effects of infertility. Learn more about infertility’s impact by reading the blogs associated with it.