I look at this picture everyday as I sit at my desk. It encompasses one of my favorite moments of my wedding day, but it’s so much more than that. It illustrates a redemptive story that only you and I will ever understand. When I rifle through the memories of my childhood there are very few that involve you being tender, loving or compassionate. In fact most of the things I remember have something to do with your rough hands landing swiftly against my backside. Not to mention countless memories of hurtful words exchanged and weeks of not speaking. I patronized you as often as I could and belittled your intelligence in front of my arrogant friends. You never took the time to put up with my bull____ which only fueled my desire to rebel against whatever mandate you had put forth. In hindsight I realize that this friction between you and I occurred because of our likeness. We’re stubborn, hard-headed, aggressive and slow to forgive. Neither one of us likes to show emotion or weakness, we’re self-sufficient and proud. These qualities although admirable at times inhibit us from communicating well.
I spent years fighting against you only to realize that I was fighting against myself. Sure you’re not the perfect example of parenthood but you attempted to raise me strong, independent and perceptive. You had my best interest in mind and you still do, but now I have respect for you. You’ve become a lot more tender the past few years. Maybe it was mom’s cancer or getting older. Maybe you haven’t changed at all. Maybe I just woke up to see all the ways I’ve gone wrong in judging you. Whatever it is, I love who we’ve become lately. Sure, we will continue to have our scuffles but you’ve seen more sides of me than anyone. After all, you’re the last person I’ve cried in front of, and you were the only one to see me nervous on my wedding day. As I stood there alone for the first time all day, watching my bridesmaids walking up to the altar, I started breathing heavily. You came over and placed your rough hands on my shoulders. I knew you put them there because you were afraid the calluses on your hands and permanently dirty cracks from years of laboring would snag or stain my satin dress. You kissed me on the cheek like always and whispered I love you. That was all I needed, it was perfect. Your tenderness in that moment erases any tarnished memory of my childhood. Our dance that night was full of sarcastic remarks and laughter as you spun me around the dance floor. As cheesy as is sounds, that picture really does say a thousand words but usually only four come to mind.
I love you, Daddy.