He encompasses most of the character flaws…er, I mean, character traits that come with being one.
He’s highly analytical. Notice the first half of that word. anal. Coincidence? I’m just saying….
He’s very intelligent. Some would say brilliant. But not me. I like to compliment him in small doses.
He can design military aircraft in his sleep.
He’s critical. He has high standards that most human beings cannot meet. He wants your blood, sweat, and tears, all before breakfast. One of his favorite sayings, roughly translated, goes something along the lines of “The work that awaits you tomorrow, do today; the food that awaits you today, eat tomorrow.” I don’t know what the @#%$ it means, but we’ve been hearing it for years and so far we’ve managed to ignore it.
He notices every spot on the carpet, and thinks Superman doesn’t speak enough Polish, and if we hear him coming down the stairs, we all jump off the couch in unison, yes, in our thirties, and pretend to be working hard at something.
Needless to say, my dad has his quirks and God help us, we still manage to love him despite them all.
He’s also the man who, when I was a teen and needed to start medication for something I was diagnosed with at the time, took a pill with me because I was terrified of the side effects. We stood side by side at the kitchen counter and gulped it down with some tea. It wasn’t until many years later that I learned he stayed up all night puking his guts out and I slept like a baby. On the bright side, my diagnosis was correct and the medication helped me.
He’s the man who couldn’t afford two cabbage patch kids for his daughters for Christmas, and so he went to the local craft supply store, bought fake dimpled limps and yarn-haired heads, and proceeded to spend the next few weeks sewing them to perfection. We strained our smiles and later cried in the privacy of our bedroom that our dolls weren’t the real deal because the cursive signature was missing from their butts. I think somewhere in my early 20’s I realized the significance of what he had done and spent days rummaging through boxes and closets, shameful tears running down my cheeks as I thought of how ungrateful I had been. The absuridity of youth, you know?
He’s the dad who drove a used Volvo to his prestigious job at an aerospace company for two decades so that the aforementioned rotten daughters could travel to their Motherland and go to summer university programs where they proceeded to make lifelong friendships and have the vacations of their lifetimes.
He has a wise @ss comment for everything and he loves to have the last word. He hates gluttony and rolls his eyes when I come out of the car with shopping bags.
Growing up, he drove us crazy with family road trips and we spent the greater part of our childhood sleeping in tents and dancing around campfires. He thinks golf is pretentious and would rather go fishing instead and his MBA, which he earned in his forties as a side project, hangs precariously in some cheap frame on an obscure and hidden wall somewhere in the house.
I remember the day, in my early twenties, as I sat across the kitchen table from him and realized that he was a human. Not immortal. Not faultless. Not without pain or doubt or suffering. It was such a pivotal and horrible moment for me. It changed the way I looked at him and at life forever. Clarity almost always comes at a price.
He was the last child in his family, the only boy, and he knew how to sew skirts by the time he was 18. He can fix any car, anywhere, and he’s rescued all of the women in his life at one time or another when our cars have become disabled (usually, he says, because we were mistreating them).
When I look at him, I can pinpoint the wrinkles on his face that were caused by my wild and reckless past; the wrinkles that symbolize sleepless nights when his sixteen year old broke curfew and dated older boys. He is a handsome man, though, and has, as most men do, aged gracefully. Which of course pisses my mom off to no end. He is a softspoken man. Rarely raising his voice. I can count the number of times I have heard him curse on one hand. Okay. Mabye two. He is generous with his money, but compliments quietly, and we usually hear that he is proud of us through our mom.
He is a gentle giant. Someone I love beyond the measure of a simple blog post, or hug, or endless thank you’s. He has guided me, forgiven me, angered me, motivated me, and most of all, he has given me the tools to become a decent human being. Someone I so desperately want him to be proud of.
Because he’s my dad.
A volvo-loving, dress-socks-and-shorts-wearing, proud-to-be-Polish-declaring-Superhero.
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