“Just let me know; I’ll get Anthony and Jay and we’ll be there.” And I knew Dad wasn’t joking. It was my sophomore year at UNM. The new apartment dorms were very much like real apartment life, specifically, me living over a guy, a football player, who played music loudly, day or night. And because UNM somehow got money from its losing football team, no one in Housing cared all that much that I couldn’t study or sleep or live. But my dad was willing to drive 1000 miles, with my cousins in tow, to “teach a lesson” to some kid, probably end up in jail (because, as he said, he’d “already lived” his life..), so his daughter could get the education he never got a chance to attempt.
I believe that every little girl needs a daddy. And I don’t mean any old dad; I wouldn’t wish some of the crappy fathers I’ve heard of on cockroaches. But a father like mine– taught me to fish; taught me it can be fun to be smarter than the boys; taught me I didn’t have to suck up just because everyone else did; taught me to not hurt others in getting what I want, but to beware of those willing to hurt me; taught me there’s nothing wrong with wearing the same pants 3, 4 days in a row, but “if you can smell yourself, other folks been smelling you for 3 days.” I know he sounds a lot like Polonius; in many ways he was. Every night Mom was at work, Dad would sit his two girls down, telling story after story; most ended with a moral simply translated as “Don’t be a dummy; get an education.”
This is not to say my dad wasn’t flawed. He was a Tall Taler. He smoked. He made promises to my mother he didn’t keep. He passed on his genetic predisposition for alcohol, which, unlike the predispositions to cancer and Alzheimer’s, I welcomed, as a warm and inviting crutch, for many years as a young woman.
But he stood by me. No matter what I needed he was there, no matter the time or what I required. He got a ’64 Ford Falcon running so I had a car to drive to work and to my moneyed high school across town to make sure I had Opportunity, and was willing to drive from his job in Baytown to the 288/ 59 junction during Houston morning rush hour traffic to get that car running again so I wouldn’t miss my Psych test. And all the things I didn’t need, he was there to tell me “no.” No matter how many times I told him the party would be safe or the parents would be home, he told me “No.”
He believed in me and because of that, every goal I set for myself at 15, I achieved before I was 30. I believe the “Dad” part of my dad is a template other men should follow. He believed that his daughters could be more than “just girls” and he made sure we knew we didn’t have to tolerate anyone who treated us that poorly. And as the year anniversary of his death approaches, 10 days before my 35th birthday, I strongly believe every girl needs a good daddy.
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