I wrote an essay in High School that I aptly named My Super-Man. It was, you guessed it, about my father.
My father was always present in my life – growing up, he joined us for breakfast, kissed my mother goodbye and slaved away all day to provide for us. It was always his goal to make it home for dinner, just as it was always my fother’s goal to have dinner ready for him. We would finish dinner and start our evening rituals of homework during the school year and abandoning him to the neighborhood friends during the summer. I always looked up to and admired my father. Every day, my young mind slowly but surely processed his behavior and who he was; these were the qualities that I would come to look for and expect from all the men in my life. My father was and still is a gentleman. He will open your door, offer his elbow and cover the puddle your are about to step in with his coat. I like him best in his black suit and tie – he looks on the outside, just like the man he is on the inside. I still remember the year my teenage sisters decided to update his wardrobe. It was the late 80s. He looked……spiffy. Let’s just leave it at that.
What made me title the essay ? He sounds like a regular dad right? He is a regular dad, but there are all the memories I have of him from all those years ago that have knit themselves into a cape and given him super-powers (sans tights.) Super-powers: only my father could successfully remove splinters, painlessly, or butterfly bandage our “open” wounds. To this day, whenever I get a splinter, my first thought is, “I wonder if Dad can come over and get this out…..” Every time I need a bandage, I question if a butterfly would be better……
My favorite gift to give my father was cinnamon gummy bears. I think my mother told me they were his favorite candy (and what child doesn’t want to give candy as a gift??) and I held on to that
like a security blanket. Looking back, I realize that my perspective might have been that of, well, a child. He would open the bag immediately (most likely at our urging,) share and eat one or two before putting the bag away (hiding it, I now realize, just as much to save for later as to keep his kids from a sugar high and our mouths from catching fire!) My father was always so patient, kind and wise. One of the more frustrating (but equally important) memories of the relationship between my mother and father was the decision making. While I’m sure my father was making lots of important decisions that I was never aware of, there were the really, REALLY important decisions that he always left to my mother. If I asked my mother if I could spend the night at a friends house, she might say, “Go ask Dad.” Sigh. Guess what my Dad’s response always was? “Go ask your mother.” Exasperated, we would reply with, “but Mom said to ask you!” “Then the answer is no.” I think I finally gave up on that routine after twelve long years, lol! I never doubted that my father had my mother’s back, and vice-versa. As a teenager, I resented the fact that my father wasn’t easily manipulated. As an adult, I am beyond grateful for his consistency and what his integrity taught me about my own self.
Times have changed. I remove my own splinters (when I can) and I forget to add a bag of cinnamon bears to all of his gifts; partly out of fear that he might inform me that he doesn’t actually like them. Why do I have this fear? When I was a teenager, I distinctly remember my mother being upset after dinner one evening. She had just found out, after twenty years of marriage, that my father did not like mushrooms, when in fact, she had been going out of her way to make meals that included mushrooms because she thought he loved them! That was my father. Eating the mushrooms even though he didn’t prefer them. Because that was what you do when life gives you mushrooms (and someone else has made your dinner,) you eat them without complaining (or grimacing!) My father has taken on a different role in some aspects; he is now the grandfather of my children, and I look to him to continue to be yet another great example of all that I think a man should be. He brings me apple pie in the fall, jars of freshly baked pumpkin in the winter, zucchini bread in the spring and summer. I call him every time I have a question worthy of a “handy-man.” One thing remains constant: I still force my dad to silently, patiently listen to my tales of woe……….and he simply, kindly, wisely helps me find my own solutions to my problems.
Happy Father’s Day to the man who always taught me that all my problems were my own fault, and that I had to solve them. He might not have flown around the globe (in tights no less,) kryptonite doesn’t exist, but he’s my hero. My Super-Man.
Love you, Dad!