I’ve always been a Daddy’s girl. More specifically, Tracey-girl, as I was called growing up.
My father & I are the only left-handed members of our family. Somehow this became quite the bonding point for much of my childhood. My mother would send me to my father to learn how to do everything, thinking that lefties must have a different way to accomplish the exact same things as right handed folk. So, Dad taught me how to tie my shoes and how to throw a ball. I still have my first baseball glove, fitted for my little right hand.
Like my father, I like to learn and find knowledge comforting. I appreciate knowing the rules & expectations in any given situation. I take charge if no one else does. I make lists on index cards. I assume (sometimes to my own detriment) people to reasonable and rational. I love (LOVE) salad. I pick and chew on the sides of my fingers and the inside of my mouth. I hold my head up in my left hand just like him with my thumb under my chin and two fingers on my temple. Unfortunately I got none of his self-discipline and resolve. I got ALL of his stubbornness incidentally.
I learned to dance in our living room doing the box step standing on top of my father’s shoes as he whisked me around. I learned math at the dining room table, usually fighting back tears–pre-algebra didn’t make a lot of sense to me and the salt and pepper shakers being used as teaching illustrations only further confused and frustrated me. I played Miss Mary Mack with him until I couldn’t take any longer his heavy USMA class ring hitting against my little knuckles. On special occasions I’d share MRE‘s with Dad, which were pretty much the coolest thing I could think of at the time and utterly disgusting to conceive of now!
When I was young I would always be the first one up after Dad. He’d make my lunch for school and give me my Flintstones vitamin along with my Pop-Tart and Tang. The morning was our time together. I remember even then being sad at the prospect of growing older and sleeping in, thus missing my morning dates with him.
My parents divorced right before high school. I was devastated when they decided I would live with my mother and my sister 90 miles away. I always wanted to be where my dad was and the idea of not being with him hurt the most.
To this day, my dad’s opinion matters more to me than almost anyone’s. His praise goes further than he can know and his company always brings with it a great deal of comfort. Our relationship isn’t without flaw or effort. But I am eternally grateful that ever since I could walk or understand that he was talking to me when he called me “Tracey-girl,” that I knew I was loved and invaluable to him–even when he didn’t quite know how to say it or when the miles between us were further than either of us would have preferred. My father’s love and belief in me taught me to believe in and respect myself. I couldn’t ask for more profound gifts.
Now that I’m grown, whenever I am in my father’s house, my favorite thing is to drag myself to the breakfast table in the morning, eat the chocolate chip pancakes he makes for me, drink the coffee he pours for me, and talk. All that’s missing is the Flintstone vitamin and the Tang.
My father turns 68 today. He’s still smarter than me, in better shape than me, and way more self-motivated than me. He still inspires me to want more for myself and to enjoy the people and things I love the most.
You still hang the moon, Daddy.