The Quiet Man

My Dad is a quiet guy. He’s nice but not overly friendly. He won’t seek you out in a crowd to say “Hello”. In fact, he’ll probably duck and hide behind a large shrub if he sees you first. If you catch him, though, he’ll converse politely for a few minutes, ask how your Mama is doing and say “Alright, then, good to see ya!” and then you’ll know that the conversation is over. He likes you, he’s just kind of… not chatty. And he’s got stuff to do, y’all. There are books to read, beer to drink and daily dorky emails to forward to my brother and me.

My Dad is tall, dark and handsome. When I was a little girl and in the grocery store with my Mom, I was convinced that the Brawny paper towel guy (the one with the mustache) was modeled after my Dad. When my Mom told me that she was sure he was not, I chose not to believe her but instead tell my second grade classmates that my Dad’s face was on a product that was most likely kept under their kitchen sink. They didn’t believe me. It was okay- I knew the truth. My Dad was better looking than the Brawny guy anyway.

I don’t know anyone who loves animals more than my Dad. Birds, fish, dogs, snakes- any and all of them. If it cannot speak, he will defend and protect it. He won’t allow me or my brother to lick him all up on his face the way he allows his three dogs to and, because of this, I know he loves them more. It’s fine- I get it.

My Dad took me to see E.T. when I was 9 years old. It was the first time I saw him cry. I remember asking him “Are you…crying?” and him replying “Yes, why aren’t you?” In that moment I realized that maybe there was something wrong with me. Why was my Dad so affected while I was not? No, it wasn’t me, it was him. Why was my Dad, this grown-ass man, crying in a kid’s movie? Maybe there was something wrong with HIM?

It’s now, as a grown-ass woman with (lots) of children of my own that I see that there is nothing wrong with him. He is imperfect, certainly, but he is the perfect Dad for me. He has shown through his actions but never his words that it is important to care for the defenseless, it’s okay to be nice but not friendly (although I am both) and that tears from a man do not mean that his nature is weak but that his heart is strong.

Thank you, Dad, for all of the non-verbal gifts you’ve given me over the years. Thanks, also, for the one saying that I remember you telling me and Nick over and over throughout the years: “When you’re dumb you’ve gotta be tough.” I know that you’re proud that neither of your kids have needed this little gem as we are both brilliant- allowing us to avoid a harsh exterior. We are kind-hearted and exceptionally good looking and that, mostly, is because of you.

Happy Father’s Day to all of the Dad’s out there. Allow your children to see you cry. I’m telling you, it’s a gift. I’m certain my own Dad is crying right now.

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