My dad has never been a saint. When I was a child I often thought he was the devil. He wasn’t always kind or understanding or forgiving. He didn’t buy me everything I wanted or let me run off to play with anyone I chose. He had all these expectations and demands and rules, so many rules. If he told me to do something he expected me to do it, and he didn’t like to repeat himself. If I broke the rules I got spanked. I wasn’t supposed to lie or cheat or be defiant. If I was playing and he whistled or called my name he expected me to return home within minutes. If he set a curfew I was supposed to honor it. I remember being late getting home from a date once and he was pulling out of the driveway to look for me! And work…the man could work from sunrise to sundown, and he expected everyone else in his household to work. I went to the fields with him before I was even old enough to attend school. I was also required to clean my own room, help my mom with the cooking, cleaning, and laundry and take care of my brothers.
When I went to school his demands were even worse. I had to behave in school, mind my teachers, do all my work, get good grades, and stay away from troublemakers. And I could never get away with anything because he actually talked to my teachers and my principal, and he attended programs and award assemblies. So I just decided I might as well comply and be a good student.
When I was a teenager he always seemed to know where I was and with whom. I swore he had spies! He disliked every guy I ever dated. He thought I was crazy when I got married so young, but he didn’t say “I told you so” when the marriage fell apart. He was just there to support me and help me move on. And he has been around for a million life changes since then. If there was a celebration or a crisis and he could be there, he was.
We’re both old now. We get along pretty well and we have much in common. He still tries to boss me around a bit and I still do things he doesn’t understand. Neither of us plans to change. I just ignore him when he is wrong and he rolls his eyes and threatens to whip me. Sometimes I have to remind him that I’m a grownup, not his baby girl. We agree to disagree.
No, my dad has never been a saint. He’s never been my pal or my best friend- just a proud, protective, patriarchal man. Just my dad…