In honor of Father’s Day, I’d like to talk here about my dad. He’s been the harmony to my solo, the swat on my horse’s rump and pretty much the one person in this world who understands what it’s like to have a nose that seems to keep growing, despite the fact that neither one of us has successfully pulled off a lie.
We share some of the same qualities, my pops and I. I mean the big nose and curly hair are a few of the obvious, but the over enthusiasm for the little things (like a field of wildflowers, deliciously ripe tomatoes, or a song that warrants lengthy discussion) are sometimes annoyingly positive for members of our clan who have heard enough already and don’t care for tomatoes, thanks very much.
Yes, my dad and I are cut from the same cloth, that’s for sure. But there is one important quality I didn’t inherit from him, or if I did I’m still waiting for it to show itself.
My dad is cool.
I mean, the man spent most of his life on the back of horses he worked to get to stop bucking only to willingly get on the back of broncs he hoped would buck like hell.
Cool like he’s over sixty and has been the lead singer of a band since he was fifteen years old.
Turns out that cool thing sort of has legs when you become a dad. And now that I have two daughters of my own, I can really appreciate what it might have looked like to be a parent to three little girls with grass stained knees that somewhere along the line became three grown women.
And I have always wondered about this. I wondered what the good Lord was thinking granting a man who could teach a son a few things about being a cowboy, hunter, fisherman, tractor driver and all things some little boys are made of, three wild-haired daughters with wills like the wind.
I always wondered if a son would have made his life easier, although I never wondered if he wished for one. He didn’t. And he never made me feel that way. He just took me along.
And riding shotgun in the pickup or sitting beside him as he played his guitar, I worked to learn as much as possible from him about ranching and cattle and music and what it means to truly love a place and your family beyond measure.
I continue to learn from him every day.
As we celebrate Father’s Day, my own husband now a daddy to two girls himself, it’s becoming very clear to me the type of man it takes to raise daughters.
I look at the lines on my dad’s face and I realize that his whiskey voice, silver hair and disjointed nose may have emerged during his time on the back of horses, driving too fast or singing in bar bands–but that was just practice, training so he could build himself some muscles.
Muscles to lift his girls up on the back of horses, into pickups, and off the ground when a fall broke our bones or a boy broke our hearts. Muscles to lift bags and beds and boxes into our cars and guts to watch us kick up dust on the road as we drove up over the horizon and out on our own.
Guts to walk us down the aisle only to leave the light on, just in case one of us ever needed to come home…
Because it’s men whose hearts have always been open to adventure and wild rides; men with gentle hands and expectations, who stay up late without complaint waiting for the car to pull into the drive; men with enough hair to hold a rainbow of barrettes and enough security in their manhood to show up to work with remnants of pink nail-polish on their fingernails; it’s only the strongest men, the most composed, most tender- hearted, most exceptional—the coolest men who understand the importance of raising girls to understand that they have muscles of their own.
In this month’s issue we’re celebrating dads and what they mean to our children, in play and in work, around the table or in a quiet nod, in all shapes, situations and gestures. Happy Father’s day to dads of sons and wild-willed daughters.