My dad and I are very close; I am happy to say that I've always been close to both of my parents (except when I was 13 and 14, and apparently a bitch). My dad and I do argue - we don't fight, we just disagree. Actually, it may be that we agree TOO much, so when we disagree, it's a thing.
My husband has told me multiple times that I am a pretty clear mash-up of both of my parent's characteristics. There are very, very few things about me that I do not get from them. I share their sense of humor, their sense of justice, their empathy and their frustrations. I am definitely my parents' daughter, and I am proud of that. Yes, we also share similar weaknesses. When they call me out on something that I've done or said that's less than fabulous, or when they think I'm just being silly or ridiculous, I tell them "I am your MASTERPIECE!" Sometimes they laugh, other times... not so much.
My father is a bit of a black sheep in his family. I love my father's side of the family, but they can be a bit rough around the edges. My father "rebelled" by going to seminary; he knew from a young age he wanted to be a pastor. His parents wanted him to be a scientist or a meteorologist because science and meteorology interest him and he's adept at both. Since they wanted him to go into another field, they did not help him pay for university. Since he had to pay for it himself (and for other reasons, I'm sure) he went to university in Regina, Saskatchewan (that's in Canada, eh). The average high for Regina in January? 13 degrees. FREEZING!! He got his degree in Religious Studies, I believe... or theology. Whatever makes you a pastor. My parents dated while he was at university; my mom was in Illinois getting her degree in psychology at the time. My mom graduated on a Friday, got married the next day, and moved to Canada the next week. Crazy!! They then moved to Toronto, Ontario, where my brother, David, and I were born. Yeaaahhh dual citizenship!!
My folks moved back to Chicago when I was almost 4 years old, and David and I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. My parents regularly took us on cross-country road trips, for which I will be forever grateful. I love road trips to this day, and I'm happy to say that I've been to the following states, if not more:
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I think I've been to Oklahoma and Texas as well...but I can't say for sure.
Although my dad is a pastor, my brother and I were not raised in a super-strict, weirdly religious fashion. We grew up going to church, AWANA (kid's club sort of thing), Vacation Bible School and Youth group. I was allowed to do most of the same things my friends were allowed to do, except my parents monitored my television (no Dawson's Creek when they were around...), my clothing to an extent (although I still wore halters and short-shorts when I was a young teen), and they made sure that they knew my friends. My parents drink alcohol in moderation (maybe one or two drinks a month) and I grew up being able to have sips of it; once when I was about 16 or 17, they let me have almost a whole beer at a restaurant! I honestly believe that their relationship with alcohol, and their willingness to allow me to try it, resulted in me having a healthy relationship with alcohol today. I never got drunk in high school or partied, I didn't go crazy at 21. It was sort of like "ah, now I can order a drink. Nice." I do drink occasionally, but it's usually 1 or 2 drinks per month.
My dad often asked me to question my beliefs, to question the things I hear, "is that good theology?" I've thankful he didn't ask me to just accept things at face value. I asked to be baptized when I was 11, and he asked me to wait until I was a teenager at least, so I could have a better idea of what it was that I believe. When I was 14, he baptized me in front of our church, friends, and family.
I believe my parents' view of sexuality also had really positive effects on me. My parents were fairly open about sex, masturbation, questions, all of that. We joked around at the dinner table; nothing lewd, just normal, healthy conversation. I had a big head start on some of my friends in this regard, even though I didn't have sex until I was married. I knew what I knew, I knew where I stood, and I knew that sex was a good, healthy, awesome thing. I wasn't raised to be ashamed of my body, and that is such a good thing for a young woman.
But back to my dad. My dad and I argue, yes, but we are so alike. We think alike, we reason alike, we argue alike. We think the same things are funny, even if they're not, really. My dad taught me to play guitar when I was 13 (although I learned more later on) because I wanted to be like him. My folks bought me my first guitar when I was 13, a kid's guitar, and when I was 16 they bought me the nice acoustic electric I still own. They nurtured my creative side, allowing me to sing them songs I wrote or read them my poems. When I was in high school, my dad took me on a dad/daughter date into Chicago to the Oriental Institute. We looked at mummies and relics from Babylon and Persia together; it was a wonderful day.
My father's opinion of me has always been very important. I remember once he told me I was getting too "worldly" (the Christian word for "don't be a skanky, consumerist bitch" it seems...?) and it CRUSHED me. When I was 16 I wanted to watch a certain movie that was PG-13 but had lots of drug use and sex in it, and my dad said no. He then watched a violent Ahhnold movie with my 13 year old brother, and I sort of called him on it, thinking that it was worse than what I wanted to watch. We argued and I cried and ran to my room. The next day he had broken the dvd and left it by my bedroom door. I had no idea what this meant; was he sorry, or angry? I decided angry. I went to church that morning since it was a Sunday, sat in the second row, and stewed. When my dad gave his sermon he talked about forgiveness, and humility. He apologized to me in front of the congregation; he said he was wrong and that he lost my temper, and he asked for my forgiveness. I cried and it was a little awkward, to be honest, but I felt so thankful to have a dad who cared enough to do that. He could have asked forgiveness later on, when it was just the two of us, but he was willing to admit he was wrong in front of the whole church. That kind of humility moves me.
When I was 21 I decided to move to Jackson Hole for the summer. My dad (and mom) were 100% behind me and looked over my resume and cover letter. They were a bit nervous letting me go across the country to live with roommates that I'd never met, but they were happy that I was brave enough to do so. They let me grow up. Our relationship slowly changed as I matured; I could tell he was concentrating less on 'parenting' and trying to keep me from making mistakes to letting me be my own person and grow up. I'm sure it wasn't easy, but I'm so thankful for the trust they gave me. I never felt like I had to PULL away from them to assert my individuality or maturity as an adult. They freely gave it.
When I came back from Wyoming, I had a boyfriend, but I didn't tell my parents. I wasn't sure where the relationship was going. When said boyfriend asked to visit me in Chicago, I had to tell my folks. Bryan flew out and met my parents; my mom loved him instantly, but my dad took his time getting to know Bryan. My dad was very deliberate in that way. He really wanted to make sure that Bryan was a good guy, and was worth my time. The day before Bryan left to go back to Utah, he asked to sit down with my dad. He asked my dad for his permission to continue dating me. My dad said it was alright. :-)
Bryan came to live with my parents (and eventually me) later that winter. When Bryan asked for my hand in marriage, my dad said something like "if we weren't okay with it, we would have told you a long time ago." He took his time getting to know Bryan, and I am so thankful for the relationship that they have. I'm also thankful for my dad's willingness to allow Bryan to live with them so they could really get to know him. They figured if he meant so much to me, they better know who would eventually be a part of their family.
I got married in the church I grew up in, the church my dad pastored. It was across the parking lot from my house, so I got dressed in my old bedroom the morning of my wedding. I walked across the parking lot with my bridesmaids. My father was in the church foyer, and my husband-to-be was in the sanctuary. My dad teared up when he saw me, and he told me he loved me and gave me a hug and a kiss before opening the doors of the sanctuary so Bryan and I could have our "first look" of our wedding.
My dad gave me away at our wedding as well as conducting part of the ceremony. He and my uncle switched off roles, but it was my father who preformed who did the whole "you may now kiss the bride" part. At the reception we danced to "You've Got a Friend" by James Taylor. My dad sung that song to me when I was a little girl, and I still tear up thinking about it. He danced with me and sang me the song on my wedding day with tears streaming down his cheeks. It is one of the single more powerful memories that I have.
After we got married, Bryan and I went on a week honeymoon to our cottage on Lake Michigan. We came home for a few days to finishing packing, and then we moved as far west as possible, to Humboldt County, California. It was 2,250 miles away. My parents missed me, but they were proud once again that I was brave enough to move across the country and start a new life with my new husband. They moved across the country (and into Canada!) when they were first married; they raised my brother and I to be risk-takers, when the risk offered a good reward. When my brother got married a little over a year ago, he and his wife Stacey moved to Flagstaff, Arizona - 1,665 miles away from home. My parents were proud of them, too.
I am so thankful that I was given such a wonderful father who taught me about my Father in heaven, who joked around with me, supported me, and loves me fiercely. I love you Daddy. Happy Father's Day.