I’ll Be There
My dad and I didn’t always get along perfectly. We argued sometimes, just like any father and daughter will do. He scolded me for coming in late and went over my dates with a fine tooth comb.
But he was always there for me.
When I got my first job at 16, my dad was so proud of me. “You never appreciate anything like when you work hard for it,” he told me. I learned quickly that the newbies got the worst shifts, which meant finishing at 1 AM. I didn’t have my drivers’ license yet. I swallowed. “Um, dad? Could you pick me up at like, 1:30 in the morning?”
“Yes. I’ll be there.”
And he was.
He took me to the park to practice parallel parking. He sat there in the passenger seat, patiently showing me how the gears worked and how to drive and park and put on the correct lights. He took me to my drivers’ test (several times! Darned parallel parking!). He even let me take his old Buick to work one day after I finally got the coveted license so that I could experience the freedom of going somewhere by myself.
I was oozing with pride with my car keys in my pocket, with no one to wait for to come pick me up . . . until I tried to start the car. It grunted and groaned and refused to turn on. I called my dad.
“Did you leave the lights on?”
I checked. Oops.
He sighed. “I’ll be right there.”
And he was.
When it got to be time for college and we were researching the dreaded FAFSA loans and trying to figure out what college to go to, he took me to SAT prep sessions, college entrance examinations, and testing of all sorts, patiently waiting in the parking lot– sometimes for hours– while I finished. Afterward he would get me a half cappuccino/half hot chocolate from Sheetz, which was my favorite at the time, to perk me up. Sometimes even on the way home I would say, “Dad, the instructor mentioned an information session shown at this same place next week . . . ”
“I’ll be there.”
I got into college and started my freshman year, petrified to be so far from home. I counted down the months, days, even moments until I could go back home again. I remember calling my dad and telling him the times that he could come load my belongings on the last day, after an almost 13 hour drive.
“I’ll be there,” he said.
And he was– loading heavy suitcases and belongings for over an hour in the hot sun so that I could come home. Thanks, Dad.
My dad was always there. He came to pick us up one dark and snowy night when we came home from college in the middle of the night on unplowed country roads and got the car stuck in a snowdrift. He came every year multiple times down to South Carolina to drop our things off, or to pick us back up. He drove me to job interviews and to pick out my first car. He cosigned the car loan and student loans and helped me to buy my first house. He came with jumper cables when my battery was dead. He changed the oil to save me 30 bucks. He helped me file my first individual tax return.
I think that being a dad is often rather a thankless, behind the scenes job, just as motherhood is. I’m sure there is a learning curve, because kids can be unpredictable and demanding at times while they learn how to navigate this crazy world we live in. No one gets it right every time, all the time. It means a lot when dads show up and help in the best way they know how.
Thank you, to the ones who have been there and continue to be there, for our families. There would be a lot of flat tires, unchanged oil, dead batteries, and unfiled tax returns without you. Happy Father’s Day.
You did it. And I’m just so proud of you.
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