My relationship with my dad was very complicated.  Growing up, we had some good times, but mostly I found him to be an angry man, who didn’t seem to really “get” me, or like me.  It’s one of the main reasons that I decided to live with mom after they divorced.

My dad yelled a lot, jumped to conclusions, and reacted to same.  I remember staying with him one time (after the divorce) and brushing my teeth.  I was about eight, and hadn’t yet learned how to squeeze the toothpaste along the entire toothbrush, so I would smooth it out with my finger.  My dad walked in while I was doing that and assumed I was trying to wipe the paste off of the brush.  He yelled at me and spanked me, without even asking first.

He also compared me to my mom, and quite often found me lacking because of that.  I realize now that was probably because he was still hurting about their separation, but at the time I found myself wondering why it was such a bad thing to be “so much like [my] mother”.

Probably my worst memory, though, was when I tried to show him a wedding dress I’d seen in a magazine.  I was eighteen years old at the time, had no boyfriend, and no prospects of getting married anytime soon, but I had fallen in love with the dress.  So, I excitedly showed it to him and announced that here was the dress I wanted to get married in.  My dad immediately told me that he “wasn’t going to pay for such an expensive wedding”.  I felt my excitement shatter.  I hadn’t ever expected him to pay for my wedding, especially one that was years into the future.  But what hurt was that he couldn’t even be excited or happy for me, or tell me how beautiful he thought I’d be in the dress.

However, I said our relationship was complicated, and along with the bad memories, I have some very good and fun ones too.

My dad taught me how to work on my car.  He believed that a everyone should know how to change the oil or spark plugs on their own, so I spent many an afternoon sitting on his car, working on the engine.  He also instilled a love for classic rock and roll music in me that lives on to this day (my mom also instilled that love, but this blog is about my dad).

A huge aviation buff, my father also passed that on to me.  I remember sitting in the car at the end of the local airport’s runway, watching jets take off and land.  Or the many air shows he took me and my brother to as kids.  And my father had a knack for seeing a jet way high up in the sky, and being able to tell you what kind of jet it was, right down to what type of engine it had.  The only other person I’ve ever known who could do that is my brother, David.

My best memory, though, was one winter in Michigan.  I was eight or nine years old and Dad drove my brother and I to an empty parking lot, where he proceeded to throw the car into doughnuts on the snowy pavement.  David and I hung the top half of our bodies out of the back windows and screamed “Wheeee!” with each and every circle Dad created.  When we were old enough, Dad taught us how to put the car into a doughnut ourselves, so we could learn how to get it out of one.  I’m grateful to him for bestowing that knowledge on me, but I still think it’s more fun to be a passenger in a controlled doughnut.

It wasn’t until much later in life – after his death – that I found out my Dad was proud of me.  He wasn’t one to express his positive emotions well, but my brother told me once about how Dad would talk about me constantly to anyone he met.  He’d apparently gush about how his daughter was living in New York (at the time), and was going to be a successful actress someday (my original wish).  It would’ve been nice if he’d been able to say those kind things to me, but I’m glad to have heard them at all in my lifetime.

I’m not one to regret things in life, so I don’t necessarily wish our relationship had been any different, but I am grateful to see how Craig is with his own daughter, Athena.  He talks with her, hugs her, tells her how much he loves her and how smart/great/etc she is.  She, in turn, feels totally at ease with him and very confident in their relationship.  To witness that sort of Father/Daughter relationship is a kind of balm for the pain I had in my own.


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Craig
    Oct 14, 2011 @ 09:46:21



  2. Kaye George
    Oct 14, 2011 @ 09:51:17

    Your dad sounds a lot like mine! He didn’t spank, but did slap me in the face once, for lying to him. He sat on a crate and watched me change a tire, also made me learn to drive a stick shift, before he’d take me for my driver’s license test. (Which I’m glad about now!) He insisted I washed my face wrong and I’d have to wait until he wasn’t around to do it the way I wanted to. I never heard he was proud of me, though. He got Alzheimer’s at the end and couldn’t remember how many children he’d had. He was a great dad when we were very small, but not so much after we were older. He also left my mom. A lot in common. I did learn how to deal with rigid, unyielding people! And I made sure not to marry one anything like him. 🙂


    • Alyx Morgan
      Oct 14, 2011 @ 09:53:35

      Congratulations on choosing differently, Kaye! YAY You!

      Yes, I think that these sorts of experiences help us become who we are, which is why I don’t regret anything.

      Thanks for stopping by today.


  3. Kathy
    Oct 15, 2011 @ 16:59:43

    It’s sad when people who love and are proud of their children can’t express it directly. Your post reminded me of a poem by Robert Hayden. Here’s a link:


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