I'm 31 years old. Actually, this year, I'll turn 32.
To the average person who looks at my life, I''m an adult, except to my dad.
Not long ago, I was hanging out with a friend at night. Her phone rang.
"Yes. No. Do you want to speak to her? Okay. Bye." That was the extent of the conversation. It was my dad calling to find out where I was. I was a little perturbed that he was calling to check up on me. And it's not the first time he's done either. In the middle of a conversation with other friends at their house, he calls to see if I'm still there and when I'll be home.
I thought the parent/child line that separated us had disappeared into an abyss of elderly parent/care provider issues. I thought with that disappearance went the habits of parenting. Then I started remembering how things use to be between us.
It all started when I was growing up. As the only daughter of my parents growing up in the country, I was a tomboy and hung out with my Dad outside more than I played with dolls inside. Needless to say, we developed a bond. I was "The Baby" and my father was my "Daddy."
As I grew older, we kind of grew apart. I found that I had more important things to do than to help Daddy weed the garden. Talking on the phone was much more important than helping him feed the chickens. And there was no way I was going to get all sweaty and dirty cutting grass. That's when the change happened: I was a "Daddy's girl" who no longer wanted to be a Daddy's girl.
It is interesting how life has a way of bringing you back to the center. While I was out building a career and developing a strong, independent personality, I didn't think a great deal about the little girl who would sit on the steps of a backyard building on summer afternoons, snacking on watermelon with her Daddy. Or of the crisp smell of country roads and the cattle along side of them that filled her nose as she took long bike rides with her Daddy. I didn't remember the feeling of safety and joy in having someone check all the doors and turn off the lights before telling the little girl goodnight.
I moved my Dad in with me two years ago after my mother died. And believe it or not, if it weren't for the love of God he wouldn't be here with me. My Dad and I had a strained relationship until I rededicated my life to God. I had been "daddy's girl" for most of my life, but when I got out of college I found us to be so much alike that at times we butted heads. But I've always loved him and now God is revealing to me things about our relationship and the depths of my love that are scary yet wonderful at the same time. I'm glad I have a forum in which to share those feelings.
Now that Daddy and I are living together again, I've realized how much I missed having that unconditional kind of love (the kind of love that weathers bouts of yelling, silent treatment and miscommunications.) The kind of love that reminds you that no matter where you go, what you do, what you say or what you look like - even in those ugly green sweat pants that you love so much - someone is there for you.
Despite the fact that our roles have changed, and I have to act like a responsible adult, I've learned that the bond is still there. Daddy will forever want to know what time I'll be back and with whom I'm spending the evening. I guess I'll just have to deal with it. And to be honest with you - I'm glad!
EMPOWERING CAREGIVERS features the "CAREGIVER OF THE MONTH SPOTLIGHT". If you know of a unique caregiver who you would like to honor or perhaps submit yourself, please send a jpg photograph (if one is available) along with your story. All submissions must be received by the third week of each month to be considered. In the subject line, please type CAREGIVER SPOTLIGHT SUBMISSION. Submit your entries here