If I had to sum up my relationship with my dad in one story it would be this.
When I was a senior in high school, I made several trips to colleges and universities who were recruiting me to run cross country and track. I went by myself on several of these visits, but for the ones that weren’t far away enough to require an overnight trip, my dad accompanied me.
We probably made 4 or 5 roadtrips, but our visit to Texas A&M stuck with me in particular. We drove down to College Station for the day to watch a home meet and see the campus. Sitting in the bleachers, my dad and I talked about the runners, what kind of school I wanted to go to, and what my goals were for competing at the college level. Running was the source of a number of fights we had that year, but on this day, we chatted easily about some pretty big life decisions I was about to make.
On the way home, I wanted to play some new CD I had bought, and my dad obliged. I’m pretty sure it was some terrible pop-punk album and my dad razzed me about my music preferences and reminded me about “good” music like The Eagles, Heart, and other classic rock bands.
A few weeks later, the scholarship offer from A&M came through and it was much lower (read: insulting) than I had hoped for, especially compared with those from other universities. On top of that, the coach was an ASS to me on the phone. Yes, he was an ass to a shy, 18 year old young high school senior. I was beside myself. I promptly ripped off the A&M bumper sticker on my car, donated my shirt, and never once wore my baseball cap emblazoned with the school logo again. Instead of telling me I was overreacting or hiding in a corner at my rage, my dad listened to me cry, called the coach a wide variety of colorful names (we swear a lot in my family), and told me to forget about it, that something better was on the horizon. Of course he was right.
In the years since, my dad has continued to have my back, blindly at times, and is my go-to person when I need to know what to do next. He not only provides the emotional support I need during the low moments, but he gets shit DONE. The man is in logistics, it’s what he does. He’s also a total softy, don’t let the gruff exterior fool you–he once sent me a “We’re so darn proud of you” email and copied ALL of my friends by accidentally hitting reply all on an email I had recently sent about my address change. He called me every day the first week I left for college because he missed me even though he didn’t say it outright. We’re pretty different in a lot of ways. And yet, I find myself striking up conversations with strangers in weird places, one thing my dad is known for, and immediately thinking, “Holy crap, I’m my dad.”
Growing up, my dad was goofy and fun and he’s exactly the same as a grandpa, eagerly making faces and pulling up funny videos on his phone in hopes of eliciting a smile from Lena. I love watching them together. Happy Father’s Day Poppy, you sappy cornball, you.