Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Best Day- A Tribute to my Father

Father's Day just passed without much fanfare in my house.  It has only been a week since my mom got back from El Salvador, and I just began a full time job for the first time in my life, so none of us thought so much how to celebrate.  But I did want to share something with my father, and I have been wanting to share it for a long time.

Taylor Swift has a song called "The Best Day" and it describes her relationship with her mother throughout her life.  It is a beautiful song and pays tribute wonderfully, but for a very long time I thought it was about her father.  I thought this despite a verse that changes from the "you" directed at her mother to, "I have an excellent father," where she includes her whole family.  And the reason I thought this is because I am a bit egocentric and found this song to apply exactly to my relationship with my father, and figure this must be true of everyone's relationship with their dads or something.

So to show my Daddy how truly special he is to me, and tell some cute stories from when I was younger, I will go through the song and describe why, exactly, "The Best Day" is clearly a song for my Dad.

I'm five years old, it's getting cold, I've got my big coat on
I hear your laugh and look up smiling at you, I run and run
Past the pumpkin patch and the tractor rides, look now, the sky is gold
I hug your legs and fall asleep on the way home

It is a pretty common thing for families to go out and choose pumpkins from their local greenhouse.  My family does this every year to this day, the tallest and biggest pumpkin always going to my dad.  My mom comes with, too, but these times are special with him actually because we are all together as a family.  And especially when I was little enough that my sister and I had to hold an adult's hand to cross the parking lot, my dad and I started sticking together.  Sydney always wanted to hold Mom's hand, and I didn't mind if we were at the mall and looking at appliances as long as I got to joke around with my dad.

"I hug your legs" is probably my favorite line because it brings up two very distinct images of my father.  Sydney and I would sometimes, probably quite annoyingly, sit on my father's big shoe and hold onto his leg and demand a ride.  He would walk around with us.  As we got a little bigger, we danced with him by standing on his feet.

I don't know why all the trees change in the fall
But I know you're not scared of anything at all
Don't know if Snow White's house is near or far away
But I know I had the best day with you today

For much of my life, I truly thought my father was not afraid of anything.  My parents have always done a really good job of making everything run so smoothly you wouldn't be able to tell there was a worry to be had.  It wasn't until fifth grade when I discovered that my father had fears like everyone else-

It was our school's annual end of the year trip to Valleyfair, and my dad was a chaperone like always.  I liked to have him with me- it was fun for all of us and it made me feel safe in the big crowds.  I had been thinking about riding the Wild Thing for a long time.  It was a terrifying coaster, with a downward drop that seemed to me to be at a 90 degree angle from the ground.  Most of my friends had ridden it, and I wanted to be able to go on with them instead of skip it.  But I was afraid.  My father ended up convincing me.  "Come on,"  he said.  "It isn't even a big deal.  It is scarier waiting here and looking at it than being on it.  Only the first hill is even scary and it isn't that bad."

So I went.  My best friend came with us and sat in the cart behind- she had a Valleyfair pass and was a Wild Thing veteran.  I sat in a middle car just in front of her with my dad, on the side of the coaster that faced the rest of the park. I nearly panicked on the way up, but he just kept telling me to look out at the park, saying hello to rides that we'd gone on before, and eventually I closed my eyes and grabbed onto his arm.

We waited what felt like a whole minute at the top of the hill as the ride got ready to let us go.  Wild Thing is propelled entirely by the momentum of that first hill, and it is intense.  When we were finally free, I thought I was going to die.  The lap bar locked a full three inches above my legs and waist, and force pushed me upwards, I felt like I was flying, but not in any way I could control.  And then just like that we were over the first hill, onto the second, and I opened my eyes and had the ride of my life.

I got off the ride and wanted to do it again.  But my father didn't. Why?  He confessed he had a fear of heights and that first hill got him every time.

My father is brave for me.  He is there for me.  He has made the purpose of his life our family.   And we have had so many fun moments.

Thanks Dad!  (By the way, the song goes on, and I hope to continue this blog post someday.)

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