There’s a song on the most recent Brandi Carlile album that starts out, “I haven’t seen my father in some time / But his face is always staring back at me”. Every time I hear it, it’s bittersweet. I miss my dad. After six years without him, the memories aren’t as fresh. They’re faded, like the photos we took thirty years ago. When I make the effort, I can see his face. I can see his smile, hear his voice, feel his hug. But those aren’t automatic, fresh like they were the first couple of years. I know I take after him in some ways. The small jaw that required years of orthodontia? Thanks, Dad. The crazy crooked toes that look weird and caused me to have foot surgery years ago? Yep, that’s him too. There are things I can appreciate, of course: the wave in my hair, or my smile. But what I appreciate the most is seeing my dad in my son.
I don’t talk about the boy much. He’s younger, quieter, not as outgoing as the girl. Not as active in as many extracurricular activities. But he’s just as delightful as she is, in such different ways. He is growing into such an amazing person and I love seeing the changes happen. If there’s a silver lining to the girl going to college (besides her getting to live her exciting life), it’s that it might give him a chance to shine more. I’m looking forward to some time with him, some time to focus on him. (My girl, I know you’re reading this. You, and the rest of my readers, should know that this doesn’t take away from how much I love having us all together. How much I will miss you. It’s like they are two separate things, existing on the same plane.)
Physically, the boy is very much like my dad, like my brother. They are tall, slim in a way I envy and he feels is gangly, I think. He has my hair, those crooked toes (but even worse than mine. Sorry, kid.) and that small jaw (yeah, sorry about that too). And even though some of the features aren’t all the same, there’s something about his gorgeous smile that reminds me of my dad. Most importantly, I feel my dad’s spirit in him. I don’t mean a ghostly spirit. Just…character, or soul.
Like my dad was, the boy is shy, introverted, quiet in larger groups. But get him in a small group where he’s comfortable and his quick wit and delightful sense of humor come out in full force. I don’t know if anyone outside our little family group knew just how funny my dad could be. In general, like Dad, the boy is a gentle person. He is calm and patient, and does his best to avoid confrontation, though being a teenager makes it hard sometimes. It takes a lot to get him fired up. That part skipped a generation: I didn’t inherit that temperament, to my husband’s dismay. I tend to have a hot temper more often than not. It has gotten better over the years, at least.
The boy is smart, and really could do anything he decides to put his mind to, like my dad learning computers early on to support his family. I don’t think he loved what he did, so I hope my son finds something that brings him more joy, but I admire my dad for what he did for us. And I think the boy has that loyalty too, that desire to make sure that the ones he loves are happy. He’s not overly demonstrative with his emotions, not the type to give random hugs just because. But he’s open to affection, willing to accept it, and every once in a while he’ll say or write something so sweet and thoughtful that my heart melts.
He’s my boy, my son, my baby. He got many wonderful qualities from my husband, and I love those things. I see myself in him, and love that too. I love all the things that make him unique. And I love him even more for all the ways he’s like my dad.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. Miss you.