A Few of the Reasons That I Am Who I Am


I wrote this for my father’s birthday last year. After struggling with a Father’s Day post, this one just kept nagging at me — like it was meant to see the light of day again.

With Father’s Day being just around the corner, I thought I would talk a little bit about my father — about some of the things that make him “him” and, by default, some of the things that make me “me”.

After giving unsolicited advice or pointing out the obvious, he likes to say, “I’m just saying. That’s all.”, which, in and of itself, should be pretty obvious to even the casual listener.

He once got a ticket on the highway for going too slow. He was 40 at the time. He holds fast to the maxim that “A car is a weapon.”

Cliff Huxtable may have made wearing college and university sweathsirts famous, but my father’s fondness for this particular apparel item predates “The Cosby Show”. He never went to a college or a university himself, all but one of his children are college graduates. The one who isn’t got her high school diploma at the age of 37; I never saw him happier or more proud.

Any one of his children can order for him in a restaurant. He always gets the same thing.

He has a penchant for giving “foul weather gear” as gifts. He believes in preparedness.

He makes lists. Constantly. They are all over the house, the fridge, the car. He doesn’t cotton to Post-Its. He’s like a modern-day William Carlos Williams.

He’s funny, but not deliberately so.

He loves baby powder. He uses it every day, but seldom wipes it from the bathroom floor. The path from the bathroom to the bedroom looks like something from an old-time detective movie. He smells good.

He clicks his middle nail and his thumbnail together when he’s anxious. He does a lot of clicking.

He will laugh heartily at the dumbest joke told to him by anyone under the age of 5, after that it better be well-crafted.

He used to collect coats and give them out to homeless people. When I started driving he made me his co-conspirator in this activity. He rode shotgun because it was easier for him to jump out of the car; he knew where they were hiding. I suspect he gave them food and money, too. They knew the car. They trusted him. He swore me to secrecy. He thought my mother didn’t know what he was up to. She did. He taught me compassion.

He’s often on to the next thing before he finishes the task at hand. He has a restless mind, probably undiagnosed ADHD.

He’s religious. I am not. He respects that.

He never quite mastered the VCR, but he spent hours making paper dolls for his daughters.

He has the gnarliest toenails in the world. He wears sandals anyway.

My mother has never brought the groceries in from the car. Ever. Even when his foot was broken that snowy Winter.

He inadvertently reveals surprises. He doesn’t understand subterfuge.

He if often annoyed, but seldom angry.

No matter how many field hockey games he has been forced to endure (both mine and my daughter’s) he will never understand the game. He still cheers like he knows what he’s talking about.

He has never gotten over the death of his son. It was over forty years ago. I can respect that.

He enjoys reading the paper aloud. My mother enjoys reading the paper silently. That always made for fun mornings.

He loves all of the British detective series’ on PBS. So do I. We often discuss the characters as if they are real people with whom we are on a first-name basis (the recent discovery of Inspector Morse’s first name thrilled him no end. “Endeavor. Hmm. I never would have guessed that!”). This name-dropping is often confusing to others.

He hates to talk on the phone. He thinks texting and email are the greatest inventions since the wheel. He embraced these new technologies immediately and with uncharacteristic gusto.

He slips me $20s with the proviso that I will only spend them on myself. Fat chance, Dad.

He once taught a gang of gangly misfits and rejects to play softball. Everybody played equally, even the girl who was blind in one eye. We lost every game that year. We won the championship the next year. He taught us the importance of fundamentals, fairness, and perseverence. He learned how easy it is to influence preadolescent girls with the promise of hair ribbons.

When my youngest sister was little she took to calling him her “soft and sweet” Daddy. That about sums him up.

This is a blog hop, sponsored by the ladies over at Generation Fabulous — hop on over and read some more great Father’s Day posts!

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photo credit: me

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40 thoughts on “A Few of the Reasons That I Am Who I Am

  1. […] like to see get more attention: Why I Get Out of Bed in the Morning The Sounds of the Season A Few of the Reasons That I Am Who I Am Accepting […]

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  2. Ned's Blog says:

    Love this post. Truly. Especially about how your mom has never brought the groceries in from the car. In a lot of ways, that says all you’d need to know about him and the kind of man he is. And it says a lot about you that you noctice.

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    • javaj240 says:

      That does kind of say it all, doesn’t it?

      The myriad of things that my father did/does for my mother is endless, really. He has always been very solicitous of her — something he taught, by example, his daughters to look for in their own husbands.

      One of the first things I noticed about my husband was that he held the car door for me and that he didn’t take me out for fast food. I would never have settled for anyone who couldn’t be counted upon to take the groceries from the car, either. (Not that my husband ALWAYS participates in THAT activity — but that’s mostly my fault — I cannot be bothered to wait for him, LOL!) Of course, we now mostly make Fangette do it — why bother to have children if you can’t get them to do some menial labor?

      Thanks for loving this post — it’s special to me — and I enjoyed writing it more than I ever thought I would enjoy writing anything. I am very grateful that I get to share him with my little corner of the world! 🙂

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  3. becels1 says:

    Raised by a dad just like yours… and married one just like him so my kids would have a great dad too. Nice post!

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  4. Your dad sounds like a gem. Except for the reading the paper out loud. That would make me crazy, just like it does your mom!

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    • javaj240 says:

      He is. To be fair, he only reads aloud those items he thinks would be of particular interest to her, you know, just in case she missed them. He’s helpful like that, LOL!

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  5. peachyteachy says:

    So sweet. I think I have read this, but thought that I would have commented. . .Miss my dad.

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  6. Such a sweet tribute. The love really shines through!

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  7. Barbara says:

    Love the list and the “soft and sweet.” What a lovely tribute and so sweet and poignant to read. He sounds like a gem ( a soft and sweet one).

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  8. ohlidia says:

    Awww…That is so sweet! I don’t know him but I feel like giving him a hug!! I miss my daddy sooooo much after reading this… sigh!

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  9. Ginger Kay says:

    Your dad sounds like a sweetheart, even if he does have gnarly toenails. Aren’t you glad you didn’t inherit those?

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  10. ksbeth says:

    he sounds like a great man and what a lovely tribute to him ) beth

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  11. MOM says:

    Daddy says “thank you” Jacqueline from the bottom of his heart/ this has so touched him he is without words/ imagine/he says it is beautiful writing and I wholeheartedly agree/ will print and frame this for him/ love you mom and dad

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    • javaj240 says:

      If you have any trouble printing it, call Aunt Maur — she enjoys printing things from the Internet, LOL!

      Thank you 🙂

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  12. Vanessa says:

    Just the absolute best. 🙂

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  13. Ellen Dolgen says:

    He sounds like an all around salt-of-the-earth great guy! What about him are you most alike?

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    • javaj240 says:

      Wow… that’s a GREAT question, Ellen. We definitely have similar personalities — I, too, am often annoyed, yet rarely angry. I think that I can certainly be compassionate — particularly where folks in need are concerned. Also, though I didn’t mention it here — my father is very loyal, fiercely so — I, too, share that quality. There’s his work ethic, too — you’d think he was a Puritan — he is incredibly hard-working. I am, too.

      Thanks for asking! I wish you’d been around earlier when I was struggling to write something, LOL!

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  14. Soft and Sweet – that is just about perfect for your dad as you describe him. Thanks for the sharing your story with us.

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    • javaj240 says:

      Alas, I must give my sister credit for the moniker (damn her cute little 3-year-old self!) — but it fits! Thanks so much for reading!

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  15. Your dad sounds wonderful and interesting and honest and loved. I love your lists, and how you understand your father for who he is. I can see a lot of him in you – though not the gnarly toes, but thanks for sharing that – and those qualities are what makes you sweet, compassionate, bright and funny. Love this post, and your father.

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    • javaj240 says:

      I put it in “list” form as a sort of “homage” to him, LOL! Seriously, he needs to cover those dogs up — horrible. I would like to think that he and I share some of the same traits — I know we share a few of the less desirable ones — like the constantly being annoyed thing — that’s definitely genetic, LOL!

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  16. He does sound like a “soft and sweet Daddy”. Loved this!

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  17. Amanda Fox says:

    OMG, except for a few things, your Dad and I sound like the same person LOL. Seriously – gnarly toenails/wears sandals anyway, baby powder/doesn’t clean it up, car as a weapon/drives slow, saying “I’m just saying”, lists, undiagnosed ADHD, reveals surprises, only laughs at well-crafted jokes. It’s uncanny. Must be why I like you so much. 🙂 You are his daughter.

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    • javaj240 says:

      Oh, that I am, Fern, that I am! It doesn’t surprise me at all that you have some of those same tendencies — probably why I like you so much, too 🙂

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  18. conniemcleod says:

    It’s obvious how much you love your Dad. It is our quirks that make us interesting. Great post.

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  19. He sounds absolutely wonderful.

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