On fathers.

I have not ever been known for my speediness. Once upon a time I was exceedingly punctual (a trait that I inherited from my father, funnily enough. My Dad who is forever half an hour early for everything. I will never forget the morning that I took my senior trip to Europe, we arrived at Memphis International Airport at least 2 hours early. No flight was forgetting me, by damn. Not if Larry Wilkes had anything to say about it), but those days are past, I fear.

It was Father’s Day this past weekend.

Father’s Day has never been something I was good at. When I was younger I never had money to buy my dad a gift, and besides, what do you buy a man who could MacGyver himself a ham sandwich or a Mustang convertible with equal ease?

Now, while I may from time to time have a couple of dollars behind a plastic bank card, it feels…strange to buy my husband a gift with money we both control. I know, it sounds weird. Not to mention there’s this whole other dynamic of the big kids and how they have a kickass dad even though we didn’t stay married very long. He’s a father, he gets the day too. I end up at a loss.

I do what I can. Things I think they will like. When I can.

dadusBut what I had for this Father’s Day, what I have for future ones too (unless one of these men comes out and says, “Hey, do you know what? I would really like to have XYZ for Father’s Day.” Seriously how fantastic would that be for all involved?) is an entire being of gratitude. A heart that would gladly slice itself in half for these men in my life that are my lifeblood.

It’s never enough. Even now, I am torn. I want to talk about my dad and I want to talk about my kids and the fathers they made of Dan and Josh. I never have enough words. Or the right ones.

usoaklandBut it’s Father’s Day. My Dad deserves some talk. Dan knows he’s a great dad. Josh knows he is my whole heart.

With you, Dad, I built a house of sticks. I learned to fish. I shot a gun. I picked out materials for a glider. I made rock families in pockets of grass and made you and the lawn mower furious. I tried to play basketball and you never told me how terrible I was. I rode behind you on a bike through thready Shiloh roads. You taught me, through good and through bad, that honesty and goodness and just doing the right thing is how the world should be.

I try to find good things in my life every day. It’s an exercise that keeps me from focusing medadon small problems and being overwhelmed. Good things like a cup of coffee at just the right temperature, or a memory. A flash of something past.

So many of my good things are because you are my dad. Thank you.

Blank screens are depressing

Important things have passed.

My oldest turned eleven on Friday. Sunday was Father’s Day.

I choose to write first about the day of fathers today, because we all know I don’t like to think about my kids getting older and hey Max, if you’re reading this in ten years….you’re 21, let’s go get margaritas.

 

So, Father’s Day.

My father has always been a force in my life.

Sometimes a force of fear – I mean, I still don’t know what would have happened if he ever found out about senior skip day. Or all the European alcohol. Or the (totally platonic) bed full of 5 terrified people after my first viewing of The Exorcist.

Now you know, Pop. I’VE CONFESSED.

Sometimes a force of ingenuity. I’ll never forget coming home and finding my very first car in the driveway – one that he traded a gun for – and thinking that no one in the world could ever get as much shit done as my dad. Did you ever read about that one guy who traded all the stuff on Craigslist and went from something crazy like a piece of gum to a Corvette? THAT DUDE LEARNED IT ALL FROM LARRY WILKES.

Sometimes my dad has been a force of inspiration – I know that any “some assembly required” project is no problem because I am a product of my dad. My dad could assemble and rework anything ever and make it not only functional BUT KICKASS. He had a scuba store in Corinth Mississippi, people. He can do anything.

 

My life has not been perfect. But I’ve never doubted that my dad would move mountains for me.

In that, I know that I am lucky.

I’m also lucky in that my children have fathers who – while neither of them are quite on the trading-firearms-for-transportation level – love them and would do anything for them. And do. They love kids that aren’t theirs in any way except me. They love where they don’t have to. Where most don’t.

Seriously. Some people don’t have that. I see it every day and it makes me ache with gratefulness.

So even though it’s passed and even though my dad might not read this, I’m thankful for the fathers in my life. I’m lucky and I never forget that.

From the dad who gave me life to the dad I share a bed with, I know every day that I am where I am because of you.

 

Thank you.

 

To be a dad

My kids have it made.

All three of them have loving, doting, involved fathers who are the very essence of what it means to be a dad.

In all the hubbub of everyday in our lives, I think we all forget that these are the memories we’ll take into our future. This is what we’ll mean by childhood.

This is our definition of family. We don’t pay enough attention until it’s passing sometimes.

We are many things.
Lucky.
Loved.
Cared for.
Provided for.
Laughed with.
Treasured.

Thank you for my children. Thank you for our life.

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photography by Talley Images

Things I learned from my Dad

Father’s Day is coming up, which makes it convenient that this topic is on my mind.

It happened early today, when I piled Lucy up into the borrowed jogging stroller and set off to see if I could do 5k in less than an hour (don’t you judge me. I know I’m slow. I’ve come to terms with the slow. I’m working on distance since speed is out of the picture. I am saving pennies for a Nike+ Fuelband because that will fix me. And once I can jog for more than three minutes at a time, I have every faith I won’t be going so embarrassingly slow SO SHUT YOUR MOUTH AND LISTEN TO MY STORY).

Anyway, I was strolling down the bustling Kossuth backroads, listening to Tina Fey read “Bossypants” because I have put off reading that book for since it came out, and she came to the chapter where she talks about her father.

Don Fey. Apparently Don Fey is a grown-ass man, and black people find him stylish.

Which started me thinking about my own father, who is also a grown-ass man, though if anyone – regardless of skin tone – called him stylish I’m pretty sure they’d end up nose to nose with some sort of oiled and loaded firearm.

I owe a lot of myself to my Dad. Genetically, obviously, there are things I can blame him at least 50% for contributing.

Things like my boiling temper, which I take a pill for.

My short patience for teaching anyone anything, because obviously if I can do it you should be able to figure it out by standing next to me since I OOZE knowledge. Seriously this is why I never volunteer in classrooms or chaperone trips – it takes just one instance of me calling Suzy Topknot a blithering slimy mouthy bratface before I am on every shitlist in the Alcorn County School District.

Things like my lack of posterior. A coworker once told me “girl, they make built-in booty pants for that problem.”

Not-so genetically, a great deal of me stems from time spent around my Dad.

Being harsher than I realize to the people I love the most.

A weakness for sugar cookies and Diet Coke.

My dirty mouth, because while I personally have never heard Larry Wilkes utter anything harsher than “damn,” I feel in my heart that he harbors a deep and diverse vocabulary that would color a soldier’s cheeks.

My stubbornness.

And in the years I spent in my parents’ house, I also learned some valuable lessons. Things I have never and will never forget:

Be ever vigilant to your surroundings, especially when driving. You never know when you’ll be able to stop the car and pick up a wallet full of dollar bills.

Be early. You get to see cool stuff. (my husband has, fairly effectively, broken me of this…although I still get ready 4 hours ahead of time. I wait a lot.)

Don’t be ashamed to find something you like and learn every damn thing anyone has ever thought, written or said about it. You will end up with model airplanes and fishing gear and guns BUT YOU WILL KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT THEM ALL.

Follow your dream, even if it makes no sense and you end up with a scuba shop in the very heart of Northeast Mississippi. You will be better than most people – no matter how things turn out – because at least you tried.

Always maintain a healthy sense of fear in your children. I will never forget when Westley Essary broke the glass door in the church fellowship hall by playing baseball with a chair leg – I was terrified for my life and I was just in the same room. For the majority of my childhood I was obedient for the sole purpose of not inciting my Dad’s wrath. Not that I thought he would physically harm me, but because he would get so completely furious that I worried he might either spontaneously combust or go into orbit.

People are stupid, they lose their shit. And finders keepers. Therefore get a metal detector. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if I ever had a metal detector of my own, I would likely never see my family again because I would immediately embark on a retracing of every surface I’d ever seen. Because OMG GOLD AND SILVER.

Cook. Cook what you like and do it well.

Anything can be learned, mastered, and conquered. One of the things I most admire about my father is his ability to do absolutely anything. I am therefore proud to say that while I’m not there yet, I am not afraid to try. I love to figure shit out. I am the best at assembling things and problem solving – and it’s because of him.

In conclusion, my father is indeed a grown-ass man, albeit maybe not astoundingly stylish, and he has given and taught me more than he probably ever will know. I am the person I am today because of him, and I wouldn’t trade any of that for all the ass in the land.