When I was a kid, my dad lived in a different state. My parents divorced when I was three, and I remember a lot of friends asking about this distant figure in my life with wonder. They expected a woeful tale of sadness, a family divided. However, I was fortunate not to remember the turbulent times. I didn’t know anything else; my parents’ separation was nothing but normal and wonderful for me. I felt lucky to have two houses, two sets of experiences, two people who loved me more than anything else in the world.
Every summer, I got to trek through the airport with its vaulted ceilings and bustling activity. With my Little Mermaid duffel in hand, I marched onto a big plane where attendants doted over me with peanuts and soda. I spent undivided weeks at a time feeling like the center of someone’s universe. My dad waded into duck ponds with me and played dress-up when I asked. He enlisted friends to sew dolls and build playhouses. We carved puzzles, painted faces, camped. He was dedicated to me, and I to him.
I can’t even explain the way my dad’s full attention for those brief spans helped build my character and my confidence. Later in life, I’d thank him for his time and credit him for making me who I am today. His trusting ear and understanding voice lent validity to my childish wonderings, and he never, ever tried to squelch my spirit. He wasn’t perfect, but neither was I. We accepted that about each other and I watched my youthful dad grow as a person, just as he watched me with wonder and awe.
Thanks Dad, for listening, for encouraging my interests and for never judging me. I’ll never forget my summers with you.