I dream about my dad a lot, this time of year especially. It’s been nearly three years now since he has been gone, but really I think he left me years before.
I was not what you’d call a “daddy’s girl.” I was his girl, his only daughter but he wasn’t a dad I ran to, or confided in. He was just daddy. I loved him and I know he loved me, but we were not close.
When I was young he treated me almost as if I was insubstantial. I think it was probably the era of his youth that brought that from him. Girls were expected to pretty and sweet, but not opinionated or outspoken. I did my best to play that role, but as I grew and became older it was a struggle. It went against my genetic make-up I think, because I was much like him.
He drank, my father, and smoked. He stayed away from home, and came home late at night or not at all. It scared me when he’d drink; it scared me when I had to participate. Not in the act, but as a spectator.
He was fun to be around, my dad. He liked to fish and hunt, camp and cook. He handed down his love of dancing (he and my mom). I loved it when he’d hold me close. I’d lay my head on his shoulder as he waltzed me across the floor. He taught me to jitterbug, twist and follow a lead. He was light on his feet and fun to be with in those moments.
It was later that we fell apart. He thought it was because I chose sides. I thought it was because he did. He had a new family, and then another. I had a new marriage and a promise from my husband to never smoke or leave me alone in the night.
At his end we were together daddy and I, although our lives were not the same. It was the smoke that took him; it clouded his lungs and burned them away.
He missed out on the best part of me. My children never really knew him like I did, and I am sad for that. I should have done more to make it happen. I should have made him see.
I am a lot like my dad. As they say- the genetic pool runs deep. I love to dance and have my say. But I will never smoke or spend all night with a drink. In a way he taught me that too, I saw there was a better way.
I dream about my dad a lot. Sometimes I wake and think I smell smoke or hear him clear his throat. I think he is holding me close. And we are once again waltzing across the floor.