Snapshots from my life, one question at a time.
Some of my father’s traits I admire:
Growing up I thought that my father’s job was to read the newspaper, then he could give his clients the best advice about their investments. His office was high up in the top of the tallest building in town, and he had a massive collection of paper weights. He’d take me to work with him on the bus, and sometimes we’d stop for a breakfast burrito from McDonalds on the way. Once we got there I would draw pictures on the whiteboard in the conference room or use a tiny pair of binoculars to look for pigeons.
I admire and love my dad most for fighting for us during the divorce. It was ugly, and maybe it came out of a need for control, but as an adult I know so many children from divorced families that didn’t see their fathers outside of holidays and weekends. My father fought against a system that primarily grants full or predominant custody to mothers, so that he would not have to be a “Disneyland dad” which resulted in my brother and I splitting our time 50/50 with each parent.
I remember a day during the divorce when my dad showed up at the valley YMCA where I was signed up for summer camp, and he was crying, which embarrassed me. He had thought that my mother had taken us to Arizona so that he couldn’t get custody, and he mixed up the week thinking we were at the downtown YMCA. He’d come from there, convinced we were gone forever, hoping against everything that he was somehow mistaken and that we would be in the valley.
For about five months or so during the divorce he was banned from seeing us, but he came to the school one day during lunch. I saw him outside from the cafeteria with a bag of sandwiches, and they were stopping him, telling him he wasn’t allowed to see me and he had to leave. They wouldn’t let me outside and I just had to sit there and watch him go.
He insisted on being the coach for whatever sport I wanted to play, made us go to summer camp EVERY week of our break and had us do a million chores before anything else on the weekend. He built up my confidence, allowed the opportunity for me to make wonderful memories and live an active lifestyle, and taught me the cleaning skills I would need when I moved into my first studio apartment. He drove me to my first year of college, and made sure I had an awesome futon and enviable TV for my dorm room. He drove me to seek higher education and paid for my entire college tuition out of pocket, even though it took me five years.
He never missed a choir concert, or track meet, or awards ceremony, and made me feel smart and capable. Every summer he would drag us off on fantastic vacations to Disneyland, New York, Boston, Baltimore, Hawaii, Yellowstone, Canada, everywhere. We saw the entirety of the U.S. and in each city we hit every major attraction. I hated driving in the big blue Suburban and urban hiking, but I loved the scenery, animals, museums and art exhibits along the way.
Twice he struggled to blend families, both ending in splits, but he was every bit a father to the other kids and never showed my brother and I favoritism, (even though the wives didn’t always afford us the same courtesy). My stepbrother’s consider him a father to this day, even though our parents are no longer together.
He has the best recipe for cheesy curry cauliflower and the worst for easy chicken. He taught me how to live, and though I don’t want to follow his footsteps exactly, he prepared me for the world the best way he knew how.