“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren't trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.” - Umberto Eco
I love when people close to me get to meet my dad for the first time. More often than not, a little time spent with the man brings a grin to their face as they flash me the "Oh my gosh, I know where you get it from" look. There is no greater compliment. My dad makes me make sense.
When I was a young girl, my dad was my hero. He knew everything, could do anything, and would make everything ok. He was the "best dad in the world".
As I grew older, I realized that wasn't true. He didn't know everything. He wasn't the "Jack of all trades". He couldn't make everything ok. He was a human. He had faults. He made mistakes. He was real. That was my favorite discovery.
It has been incredible to have a father that has stood by my side my whole life. I know now that it is a rare thing in this broken world. It is not a relationship that everyone gets to experience- at least in a healthy way. I am thankful for mentors, and strong male figures that stand up to fill in those gaps for those who don't have someone to fill that role. I have had my own mentors outside of my relationship with my father, and I am so grateful for their wisdom and support.
Of course, no one will ever fill the same shoes. My father is one of a kind. He was the man who loved me first, the one I loved first- and without condition.
My siblings and I have spent most of our lives single. We joke all the time that our parents have ruined us. They have raised the bar too high with their solid and yep-we-still-flirt-all-time-in-front-of-you relationship. The reality is, there is more truth in that than perhaps we care to admit. We have grown up with two people who, despite all their flaws, love each other so well.
As a young girl, and now a grown woman, I am most amazed at the way my father cares for my mother. He sees her in a way that no one else sees her. He understands her in a way no one else can.
My mom always told me that she met my dad when she was feeling like her "worst self". She had just graduated college, she was trying to rid of the "freshman fifteen", and she felt lost as to what the next step was in life. Despite her insecurities, he fell madly in love with her- so much that even her skeptical self believed it.
That's a story that I've always held onto. I have had my own share of heartbreaks. I have put up my own walls, and my father has always been my sounding board. His arms were the ones I fell into. He was the one that wiped my tears and reminded me, "He's not worth it Karli. You deserve so much more, and I know you'll get it."
I remember one particular occasion where I felt so broken I could hardly breathe. I had been going through a very dark time in my life- depression had it's nasty grip on me and I was falling apart. Once again, I had my heart ripped out of me and I broke down in front of my father. He pulled me into a big "Papa-bear" hug, and explained, "Karli, when I met your mother I didn't understand how anyone like her could love me, but you know what? She never made me feel that way. We both knew, without a doubt, that we loved each other exactly the same. That's the only thing I ever want for you- to love and be loved in return."
I've never forgotten that moment. It's branded in my memory forever, and I hold on to that sentiment like a locket around my heart.
Perhaps I am still looking for that in a relationship, but the reality is- I have experienced that kind of love. My father loved me from my first breath, and he will until my last. He loved me when I screamed and whined, engaged in some ridiculous pre-teen argument. He loved me when I got my first car, and immediately rear-ended someone not 5 miles from my house. He loved me when I was dealing with eating disorders, and deep depression. He loved me when I couldn't even love myself.
My father taught me that it is ok to not be ok. He taught me patience, and perseverance. He taught me to be vulnerable with others, and to live honestly. He taught me the importance of giving back, and loving boldly. He is an example of someone who lives to love, and loves to live.
I understand that he is no super-hero. I understand that there are others who believe their father is the very best person they know, but mine is the best for me.
Dad, I love you more than I could ever explain on a blog, or a card, or even in words. You are my person. Thank you for letting me be fully me. Thank you for your support, and your light, and your laughter.
Happy Father's Day- today, and every day.
With all my heart-