by Cynthia Toney
My Father and I were not what you would call close.
In the 26 years we occupied this planet together, I don’t recall a single father-daughter walk to discuss school or dating nor a single “I love you.” We had only one very brief private conversation at the kitchen table.
My Father was strict in his approach to raising my sisters and me. I was obedient, so he only spanked my younger sisters. Regardless, I feared him more than I loved him. He was the enemy.
His rules would be considered draconian today. No television after 8:30 p.m. on a school night, no matter how old I got. No driving in the rain (somehow, he always knew what the weather was going to be like).
When my Father came home from work, he didn’t spend time with me. He relaxed with my Mother, Grandmother, or other adults; our weekends were no different.
I longed for the kind of a father as some of my friends had – one who would toss a ball to me, take me to the movies, or teach me how to make things. I wanted a friend.
I left home when I was 18 – to marry too young, but not until my Father was sure that I had started college.
By the time I lost him to a heart attack, I had come to terms with our relationship. Actually, I felt that our connection had improved just before he was hospitalized. I shared the gift of his first grandchild with him; the way that his face lit up when he looked at her was unfamiliar to me.
As I raised my daughter, my marriage with her father fell apart. Without her father or my own to help me, I discovered just how tough parenting can be. There were times when I wondered if I would be able to stay calm when she was sick or hurt. I struggled to protect her from her poor judgment, bad driving and bad friends. I realized that I was protecting her just as my Father had protected me. Eventually, I understood that rules save children from themselves. Love is not always spoken. Caring isn’t only shown through fun and games.
It took another 26 years, but I finally got it, Daddy. You were my Father.
Cynthia Toney is a Contributing Writer and Editor, The Bold Pursuit
© 2011, The Bold Pursuit, All Rights Reserved