These daddy’s girls aren’t sissiesWritten by Autumn Lee | | firstname.lastname@example.org
By Karen Smith
It’s a family rumor that my dad was hoping for two sons when my parents received word that my mom was carrying twins. Matthew and Mark we would have been named. He’s done well not holding our gender against us, and was known to help with some very feminine challenges throughout our childhood.
But my dad threw typical roles by the wayside when he decided to teach my sister and I the things that he felt were crucial to a person’s ability to function in the world. He taught us how to walk uphill in mud, the proper way to hold a flashlight, throw a baseball, and how a perfectly tied clove-hitch knot is a thing of beauty.
My father literally traveled the world as he made a living, and was home an average of only six days per month. He is a very hands-on guy, and during that short time there were many projects he wanted to complete. Many of them required at least two people for some part of the process.
My sister and I would take turns helping when he invariably asked for assistance. The requests always came with a verbal estimate of the time that we would be needed; sometimes many hours, or even days. These projects were extremely varied in scope, and among other things included: completely replacing the fuel line on a pickup truck, putting up insulation in the crawl space, repeatedly holding one end of a measuring tape while he built a trailer for the lawn mower, planting perfectly (and I mean perfect; we measured them) straight rows of vegetables, and bleeding the brakes on every vehicle we ever owned.
And of course we will never forget the dreaded plea that we reach/crawl into a space he could not maneuver in because his hand/head/body was too large. I believe those episodes alone may account for my claustrophobia.
Looking back now I realize that I really did glean some valuable lessons even though at the time I was bored and counting the minutes until I could return to my own agenda. I know now that there were probably many times that he could have accomplished as much, if not more, without my presence. He must have appreciated some company while he worked, and it is some of those moments that we both undoubtedly remember most from my childhood and adolescence. I know that we often enjoyed sharing moments during his sliver of time at home.
Now the roles are reversed. He has retired, and we are the ones interrupting his days seeking someone to lend a hand. He has worked truly countless hours at both families’ households completing tasks which have required digging trenches, canning vegetables, building walls, babysitting and placing fence posts. He has come to my rescue numerous times in multiple situations for which I am very grateful. It is interesting to watch as he holds court as the wise and experienced elder helpmate.
I don’t think I have ever had a conversation with my dad which did not include him giving a bit, or a bunch, of advice. And almost every parting between us ends with him reminding me to ‘be careful’. I suppose at times I could make assumptions that he doesn’t think I know what I am doing as I live out my daily life four miles from him. But I don’t mind at all. Being a parent has enlightened me as to the motives behind his suggestions. As every father should desire for his children, he simply wants what’s best for me.