Fathers are versatile. At least mine is.
He’s made me happy by saving me from wild animals like mutant killer spiders that are about to repel down from the ceiling above my bed and attack me.
He’s made me embarrassed by calling my date by the wrong name. (It also made me wonder about his cognitive function because the name he used wasn’t even the name of any current or former boyfriend any of my three sisters or I had had. Or even of anyone we knew, for that matter.)
He’s given great advice on mechanical things like cars. When I was away at college my dad talked me through changing a radiator hose over the phone. So what if I’d purchased the wrong one? My roommate was pre-med and a few minutes with her scalpel was all it took to cut that baby down to size.
Dad’s advice on boys is — 43 years and counting — still unchartered territory. I’m convinced no matter what my problem, his answer would likely have included the reminder that he and my mom had “dated” for two years via letters between the US and Bolivia where he served in the Peace Corp. (I’m sure Rick will also be a big proponent of a snail mail relationship when Lia hits the dating scene.)
As adults, many of us women probably don’t consider ourselves likely to run to our fathers for every little problem. By now we’ve learned to be self-sufficient, can hire someone to take care of the issue, or simply add the task to the Honey Do list for our respective Honeys.
But not that long ago, within one hour of Rick leaving town for a few days, one of the toilets got backed up. I’m not an idiot. I do know where we keep the plunger. I also understand its intricate mechanical workings. I was even willing to use one. (But only because the other option was waiting three days for Rick to return home.)
I learned something new that day: Our plunger is sexist. It refused to work for me. Feeling frustrated, I called my parents’ house. Mom answered and provided just the right amount of commiseration and pity party I needed. Then she put Dad on the phone because no matter how old you are, when the toilet’s broken your father will not hesitate to say, “I’ll be right over.”
Calls like that made him feel needed. And he got to play with his tools, which were a lot more fun than plungers. And once he was done — and had thoroughly washed his hands — he got a grateful hug from his daughter.
It’s nice that fathers get at least one day a year when we kids thank them for all they’ve done for us. And for all the crap they’ve put up with over the years.
Happy Father’s Day to all the great dads out there. Mine especially.