My dad doesn't do Father's Day. He also doesn't do pictures. Consequently, one of those "Happy Father's Day to the best dad ever" captioned photos did not materialize on my IG yesterday. See, my dad doesn't believe in special days to appreciate special people, because the time for appreciation is everyday. In fact, when I spoke to him yesterday and mentioned the 'special day', he responded "yo B, bye" and hung up, to which I responded with hysterical laughter. Our annual Father's Day hang up. Maybe it's not that funny for outsiders, but to me, it's all a part of his charm and the only response that feels right. I was 18 when I realized that this response was not only the only kind I'd ever get but also the only kind I ever wanted.
My parents drove me up to college on a really sticky afternoon in August. I remember how sticky it was because I cursed myself for wearing shorts on leather seats (thunder thigh probs). I don't remember much else about the 4 hour trip up there except it was long, sticky and I got nervous every time I heard glass shuffling around in the boxes in the back. Oh, and the fact that my father wore cowboy boots, a hat and chewed on a straw the whole way there because as he put it "I'm drivin' up this here road cuz my daughta here's on her way to call-edge" in his terrible Southern accent. To dear old dad, middle of nowhere Pennsylvania = the south. As we unpacked the car in front of my dorm, I watched all the parents, fixing their kids things - making beds, stuffing drawers, asking if they had enough shampoo or underwear - and all of them hugging and tugging on their teenagers like they might never see them again.
Because if not a pic of me and my dad, why not a picture of the most famous daddy/daughter duo (or trio)? :)
After my parents and I finished unloading and stacking all of my boxes on my side of the room, I stood expectantly waiting for something. Bed making, clothes folding, showering of kisses and 'I'll miss you's'. My father pulled the straw out of his mouth, said "Well, that's it, little lady. I love ya!" in his accent, pulled in me in quickly for tight hug and a kiss on the temple, and was out the door. I only had time for a confused mumble of "I love you too" before he was gone. I remember unpacking my things with tears in my eyes, trying not to cry in front of strangers.
My mom called me that night when they finally got back to New York and she let me in on a little secret. "You know your father cried on the way home." I hadn't said anything but she knew I needed to hear it, knew I needed to know so it would make sense. He was going to miss me, his only little girl, and in some ways it broke his heart to leave me there. But he also didn't want to make the moment an upsetting one. He wanted to give me my independence and prove to me that he trusted I could go it alone - whether that was unpacking a box or living on my own for months at a time. He didn't say it, but I knew it because I knew him. I silently cried myself to that night. Not only because I was gonna miss him, but because he was such an amazing dad, unique reactions and all, unlike any other and I was lucky to have him.
I love that man with everything in me, for everything in me I owe to him. Everyday.