Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Daddy Valentine

I don't think it's unfair or implausible to say that the only man who I believe will ever love me unconditionally is my father. Though for most of my life I've longed for the kind of relationship that matched the parent-child experience that I've had my whole life, I've come to realize that we can't necessarily count on that sort of relationship when it comes to romantic love. If we've ever had an unconditional love, that is something. To expect another is perhaps asking a bit much.

I wish it wasn't, but sometimes it feels that way.

Which is why I'm so lucky to have my dad.

My daddy gets a lot of airtime on this blog. I would not hesitate to say that he is worth any amount of attention I give him. He never ceases to surprise and amaze me.

Most notably today when I received a package in the mail that I had not been expecting.

I didn't order anything, so I was initially confused. My dad doesn't usually send me mail, so I never quite expect anything to come from him. But who else could it have been from? I didn't want to expect what wasn't true, so I wrote him a text asking if he'd sent me a package.

"Yes," he wrote back.

After about an hour of getting excited in the middle of class, I walked back to my dorm and retrieved the "large box" (according to my "you've got a package" email). It had a strawberry printed on it and I knew what I was in for.

I love chocolate strawberries. My dad knows this. A few months ago I made chocolate strawberries and used the activity to create a photo blog post walking through the lovely and tasty process. He must've remembered.

The other day when I was feeling sad and lonely, I called him up on the phone and told him how lost I felt. I thought this would be the first Valentine's Day of my life where I'd have someone special to share it with. Things never quite work out the way you expect them to, though. And thus, I'm alone again on the holiday for being together.

My dad didn't need to buy me chocolate strawberries. I certainly didn't ask for them, nor did I expect them. I knew that as Valentine's Day approached I would be sad, but I didn't instigate any repair for the loneliness that I expected to settle in on Thursday.

Because of his foresight though, and because he loves me more than I believe any other man will ever love me, he performed this sweet and (to my mind) incredibly huge gesture for me.

My dad has had such a valuable presence in my life for as long as I can remember. From a young age he taught me to love music. He brought musical theater into my heart, taught me how to love oldies tunes, encouraged me to listen to musicians that I loved even if it wasn't exactly his taste. He opened up a new world to me.

I've always envied his abilities. I can sing and I can play a sadly unsophisticated tune on the piano, the guitar and the flute. But I've never been the wiz kid in music like my dad was and will always be. I always associate the sound of a piano with the sound of home because as long as I've known him, my dad's made my home resound with ivory tones.

Even in the most subtle ways, my dad has always introduced love, compassion and happiness into my life. Though he has the ability to get on my nerves, he has an even greater ability to calm them.

He may not be the perfect guy. No man is. He may be messy; he may be silly when the situation doesn't warrant it; he may be overly enthusiastic about his political views at times; he may even frustrate me on occasion. But in the ways that matter, he is just right.

It's no wonder that at this point in my life I've never been able to find anyone comparable. When you start with someone who sets such a high standard, how is anyone else supposed to compete?

This Valentine's Day, I came to him crying and he restored my peace. He gave me a reason to lift my head, bought me chocolate strawberries that from an outsider's perspective might seem a small gesture, but in my eyes make what would've been an awful Thursday into a Valentine's Day filled with the only love that I know I can always believe in - the love of my family.

The relationship between my dad and I is grounded by a mutual respect and unconditional love. Occasionally I take that love for granted, but maybe that's because in my heart I know it will always be there. So I don't expect the chocolate strawberries from him - I don't expect any sort of gesture outside of the ordinary.

I guess I don't expect them because I know that where it counts, I'll always have what I need from my father. Love is all I need. At this point in my life, I don't know that I'll find it in someone else. But at least I know I'll always have it from my daddy.

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