Living Beyond Boundaries Thanks To Dad

how fathers empower daughters, father's day thank you, not scared thanks to dad,
Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0 by Florian K

Living beyond the boundaries of streetlights, I often drive on dark country roads where fog hides in the hillsides. Sometimes only tendrils of mist reach up from the ground. More often I’m engulfed in clouds so heavy that the road is obscured. Straining to see the turns on these narrow lanes, I’m not stressed. I smile. I’m thinking of my father.

“People call this kind of heavy fog ‘pea soup,'” my father had explained to me when I was a first grader, even as he leaned intently over the steering wheel.

“But it doesn’t look like soup to me. What would you call it?”

Beyond our windshield it looked like a white wall as our headlights reflected off the water vapor. His voice remained cheerful.

He told me about being a radar man in the Navy and described the sound of foghorns.

“What we’re going to do, Honey, is blow the car horn to let other cars know we’re coming. It’ll be our foghorn. That way we can navigate our way out.”

We drove on through the dark, he and I, talking and laughing and pretending we were piloting a ship through the waves. Before each bend he gave a blast on the car horn. It was delicious to me—my daddy taking part in a giant game of pretend. And better yet, engaging in the forbidden act of making noise, waking up the night to say we’re here.

My father never let on that the ride that night was dangerous, or that the prattling of a little girl was hard on his concentration.

Although his own childhood was marred by the early death of his father, his mother’s chronic illness, and the hard work that comes with poverty he overcame those limitations. He went on to a career as a public school teacher where he helped hundreds of other children find the best in themselves.

I know he had a way of making me feel important, no matter the task. Once when I wanted to help him install a hot water tank, he didn’t let on that an eight-year-old would be in the way. Instead he said what he really wanted was for me to read him some poetry because that would make a difficult job more pleasant. He put me safely on a stool a few feet away where I read aloud from a junior book of verse while he wrestled with the chore. Occasionally he sat back on his heels in appreciation at the end of a poem. He talked about discovering the great poets when he got to college, even described the large brown book he’d saved from a literature class for his own children to enjoy some day. When he was done, he said he couldn’t have done it without me, the same thing he always said.

He never found that big book of poetry he’d hoped to share. But my father gave me something more precious.  Complete acceptance. And when a girl has that kind of love from her father, she carries with her the self-assurance to transcend any boundaries.

My dad always shrugged off flowery praise. So each year when Father’s Day rolled around I bought a blank card. Inside I wrote him a fond memory of my childhood and how that resonated in my often challenging life. He always got a kick out of it.

This is my first Father’s Day without him. If I could, I’d tell him, “I couldn’t have done it without you.”

thanks to dad, couldn't have done it without dad, father's day tribute,
Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0 by Wwcsig

Top picture by Florian K.

Bottom picture by Wwcig.


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6 thoughts on “Living Beyond Boundaries Thanks To Dad

  1. This is so touching and beautifully written. What a special tribute. I’m so sorry for your loss and though today must be hard I wanted to comment and thank you for sharing.

  2. That is a beautiful remembrance, Laura.
    He was a great blessing in our lives…and his spirit lives on through all he gave.

  3. What a gorgeous post. I always get all weepy on Mother’s Day, since I lost my mom as a young adult, but I think I tend to take Father’s Day for granted sometimes. This post is a great reminder of how important it is to say those ‘love words’ when we have the chance.

    I’m so sorry for your loss. But what a gift it is, to walk around the planet, knowing you were that loved.

    When I was young I used to love sitting in our forbidden living room (where we only went when company came over!) and basking in the quiet there. My dad had received a small trinket for Father’s Day one year, that had a picture on it, much like the picture in your post, of the lighthouse. I sat in that room so often, that I memorized the saying on the trinket, and it stays with me still. It seems appropriate here.

    “A father is neither an anchor to hold us back, or a sail to take us there, but a guiding light, whose love shows us the way. ”

    Your father’s guiding light will always show you the way.

    Hugs to you, as you continue to miss his presence.


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