My dad is a military man and an astrophysicist. He is quiet, almost taciturn, not one to readily show emotions. I think he might be confused by me. He is very logical (like Spock). Why would his daughter, who is violently allergic to mozzies (I get lumps the size of goose eggs), want her career to be outside, where she is regularly eaten alive by mozzies, which love her?
He understands my sister, a lawyer, much better. She has never been paid one dollar an hour at a job, nor has she ever had to clean up after hippos.
Because he is so quiet, I depend on little moments to determine how my father truly feels about me.
I went to an American high school, and I graduated top of my class. As valedictorian, I gave a speech in front of 5,000 people. Of course, I started my speech with a quote from Douglas Adams: “There is an art, or rather, a knack, to flying. That knack is to throw yourself at the ground and miss.”
The speech itself was an extended metaphor and it was…a little unusual (just like me!). After, people were commenting on how “cerebral” it was, but just when I was feeling most low about it, my father said a simple three words that made me feel entirely better, “It was poetry.”
I think it was hard on all of us when he was stationed in the Middle East. He wasn’t allowed to call us, and all of the email sites were blocked, so he and I stayed in touch by having little digital pets at a website where we could send each other “neomail.” Because it was a site for children it was not blocked.
When he returned from his deployment overseas, he, who was not one to hug or kiss or say “I love you,” picked me up and spun me around. I was so surprised, but he never said anything about it, just went along as if nothing had happened.
Another time, on Christmas, we went to midnight mass together and, being very tired, he rested his head on my shoulder for just a moment.
The fact that these moments stand out so sharply in my memory might indicate to you that they were rare, and indeed they were, but maybe that makes the littlest memories even brighter.
I love my father, even when he is a little crabby.