When I was in sixth grade my father worked overseas while my mother and I stayed in The States. Boyfriend bracelets were in vogue. Strings tied around the wrist that girls wore until a boyfriend cut them off. I kept that nasty, color drained, germ infested thing on my wrist for months until my father returned on home leave. Sure I had crushes and even sneaked a kiss but there was only one person who could cut that bracelet, my true love – Daddy.
I was blessed with a wonderfully, imperfect, charming father. He was smart, fun and just irresponsible enough to be interesting. Daddy loved me so deeply and completely that there was no room inside me for negative self-imaging or loathing. How could there be if from day one I knew that at least one person on this planet was convinced that I was the most precious thing ever created.
Let’s not get into how old I was when I realized that the man was a mere mortal. The news ticked me off. It took a while for us to build a revised relationship. Luckily we did before he died. Some days I miss my father more than I can stand. When things aren’t the way I know they’re supposed to be I crave to hear Jamaican him say, “Dat’s bool shite. F dem. Keep your foot up their arse. You’re doing the right ting, Baby!” On those occasions I sojourn into the living room and have a heart-to-heart with his portrait. After I give him a piece of my mind for dying we get down to business.
I delight in seeing Daddy in my son. There’s a physical resemblance but more remarkable is the common high intellect, irreverence for authority, self-assurance and bits of irresponsibility. Grandfather and grandson used to have curious, meandering telephone conversations, which only they could follow. It sounded as if they were having two completely different conversations but in the end they heard one another and were happy. It was male bonding in its purest form.
Like mothers, fathers have a special place in our lives. Both are essential and can be filled by proxies. The important thing is that everyone has a male role model who adores him or her as only a man can. One of the most important things fathers do is to help children appreciate mothers. Without my husband assuring our son that I’m supposed to be a pain the little boy probably would have taken me out years ago.
I’m doubly blessed because I get to witness my son with his father. My husband is smitten with that child. The beauty of their mutual admiration society is overwhelming (and disgusting). Every child should belong to a man who knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that (s)he is the most marvelous being ever birthed. The priceless gem that this cultivates deep within us is where we retreat when the world is too much. It recharges and pushes us forward. Without this guiding gem children of all ages are forever wandering in search of The One. Girls often exhibit this by repeatedly making poor mate choices. Boys do it by being said poor choices. It doesn’t take much to steer one in the right direction; just a gem of a man who’ll tell you the truth, the way you need to hear it, punctuated with everlasting love.