Last month I discussed Mother’s Day and how important my mother was to me. Because my parents were divorced when I was still a toddler, my relationship with my father was necessarily different.
I’ve never celebrated Father’s Day with more than a card and/or a phone call. It’s not a special day for me. I loved my daddy and I know he loved me. I always felt he supported me, even if from a distance. But I lived with my mother and she took care of my day-to-day and year-to-year needs.
Strangely enough, I always called him “Daddy.” I say strange because I called her “Mother” never “Mommy” or “Mom.”
Unlike with shared custody, I visited my father only occasionally. We spoke on the phone quite regularly, but he rarely attended my school or dancing events. I don’t remember wondering why or feeling particularly bad about it.
The truth is during the 1950s and 1960s, Fathers—at least mine and my friend’s—rarely participated in their children’s lives. In fact, unlike today, there weren’t that many school activities which required—let alone encouraged—parental participation.
When I would spend the day with Daddy (keep in mind I was 6-to-10 years old), he would amuse me with magic tricks. He could find nickels in the strangest places—behind my ear, on top of a lamp shade, behind a clock. And we always ended the visit with a game of dominoes, which he never let me win; I had to work for it. In my teen and adult years, we would play pinochle, assuming a couple more players were available.
Our phone conversations included his reciting poetry. He wrote one about my dog named Twinkle, called “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Dog”—you get the idea. He also wrote “punny” jokes and product jingles, none of which I remember, but they always made me laugh.
Another favorite phone game involved my giving him a long series of multi-digit numbers to add or multiply together. He could come back with an answer almost immediately. My mother said he was good with math—no kidding—and could have been a CPA.
As I grew older and my male friends or co-workers talked about their daughters, I began to realize how much I had missed. Sometimes I wondered what having a full-time dad would have felt like. What would have happened if my parents had stayed together? But such speculation only makes my head spin—too many variables.
The fact is, I am who and where I am now because of everything that has happened in my life—every person, every event, every circumstance. And frankly, where I am now is a perfect place.