Sunday, June 17, 2012

I am still my daddy's girl.

My dad is a retired officer of the United States Navy.

This means a lot of different things, but what it meant when we were very little is that he would be gone for months and months and months, out at sea in undisclosed locations, doing whatever it is that submarines did in the eighties and early nineties.

When you're zero to three years old, you forget people whom you haven't seen in a week or two, much less three (or more) long months.

To her credit, Mom tried to remind us of Dad, to help us know who this man was who would mysteriously swoop in and out again. She made little picture books (photos in ziploc baggies strung on a key ring) filled with pictures of him, kept photographs around the house, and talked about him to us frequently.

This did not always work as planned. Sometime when I was about a year old, Dad was home on leave. He arrived and Mom made a big show of being excited. "Look, Katie! Here's Daddy! Look, it's Daddy!"

I took one look at this dude in his uniform and very firmly said "No. Not Daddy."

"What do you mean, that's not Daddy? Of course it's Daddy!"

"No," I reiterated, and pointed imperiously at the photograph on the mantel. "That Daddy."

Poor Dad. Replaced by a picture on a fireplace mantel.

I figured out who he was eventually (or more than once). I walked for him first (Dad calling to Mom in the other room: "Honey, you didn't tell me she's walking!" "That's because she's not!"). I learned to read in his lap and to drive with him in the passenger seat and we cried arm in arm through that long walk down the church aisle at my wedding.

Dad calls me a writer when even I refuse to acknowledge the title. We go to book conventions together. Mom banned us from going to bookstores unchaperoned. We hike together. Whenever we're in the same town, we'll accompany each other on errands, content to ride along in silence.

I could not have asked for a better father. He's wise and funny and kind and patient, my most steadfast encourager in all that I do. It's trite, it's sappy, and every word is true.

I miss you, Dad, now that I know you exist to be missed. I love you.

Happy Father's Day.

I don't have a picture of Dad on Picasa, but as a
UT Austin alumnus, I know he'd appreciate this photo
of Longhorn cattle at last year's State Fair.

I cannot wait to see my dad (and mom and brother) this week.
This is the DDH's first Father's Day too, sort of. Next year I suspect I'll post in honor of him.
Hope everyone's having a wonderful weekend!

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