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Monday, June 9, 2014

You Are Your Mother's Daughter.... A Reflection on Father's Day.

Hello everyone! Melissa Keir here to share with you some musings on family and life growing up in a small Ohio town. My mother passed away quite unexpectedly about fifteen years ago. She'd been a fighter all her life...battling cancer and other health scares. Of course I identified with her, but I felt that distanced me from my dad. I reflected on my relationship with him and wrote this essay to him which I shared on his big birthday among his closest friends. With Father's Day this month, it seemed appropriate that I share it again with all of you! Also- please share some of your own favorite memories with your fathers. <3




You Are Your Mother’s Daughter

“You’re your mother’s daughter” were words my dad wrote to me in response to an essay I wrote about food and the generational quality of it.  His words were meant as a compliment pointing out how much I am like my mother.  It made me happy to think of being so much like her but it also hurt.  “The pen is mightier than the sword” was never truer.  What we say in writing can wound and at two am I was worried that in some way, my essay had hurt my father with those words.  However these four words sent me on a journey down memory lane during the wee darkness of the morning…because if I am my mother’s daughter, I am also my father’s daughter.

Hard working is my strongest memory of my father.  Not only was his job incredibly physical, as a foreman at the local steel plant, but it was a mentally demanding job.  He worked the swing shift which meant that he would often work strange hours and sleep strange hours.  “Don’t wake your father” were words to live by! His schedule could and often did change daily.  To drive your body to that point takes not only physical but mental acuity.  But more than the hard work he did on the job, my father worked around the house and at many of my other family members’ homes too, fixing roofs, building decks, or helping to paint the house!  At no time did I hear my father complain about the work or refuse to help.  Maybe that is a part of the code he was raised by but he set a powerful standard that I have always attempted to reach. 

Personal responsibility was also an important part of my dad.  I remember when I was a teenager with a new car.  He told me that in order to be able to drive that car, I needed to know how to take care of it.  Two days I labored trying to figure out how to open the hood and check the oil.  At any time, I could have asked for help but I wanted to prove that I was able to do this.  I wanted to earn his respect.  His modeling of personal responsibility taught me to take my knocks for the things that I did wrong.  How absolutely frightening were the words “Wait till your father gets home!”  My mom could utter those in a whisper and we would sit with fear because we knew we had done something bad…something that we may face a consequence for but face it we would, you could count on that!  Today, so many parents let their children off easy for fear of harming their child’s self esteem but I am glad that my father taught me to take the good with the bad and own up for what I did.  No point in running from consequences, God or Karma has a way of catching you and making you face the music and no excuse will change that fact.

While hard work and personal responsibility were vital to my father, emotions were a tough one.  He grew up in a time when men didn’t show their emotions. Yet God felt the need to saddle this man with five daughters (yes, I did say five).  The emotional roller coasters he dealt with were staggering.  Honestly, that man must have earned sainthood as we went through teenage hormones!  There are photos of him holding each new baby with a look of awe on his face.  And the laughter that could be heard as he chased us around the house as a snarling monster was music for angel’s ears!   One story that he likes to share of my childhood is the burning desire I had for a puppy.  We had other pets, gerbils, hamsters and many cats growing up.   One day one of these kittens had climbed into my dad’s wheel well of his car (only a kitten knows why they do this).  On this day, my father had to work and the car quickly became a killing machine.  Horrified about how to break this information to his young daughter, my father must have agonized over telling me.  (Having children of my own- I know how heartbreaking it is to share bad news with them.)  Knowing my dad, the worry about the emotional toll it would have on me, fearing that I was scarred for life, he shared it in the kindest most sympathetic way.  Only to get a response from me, “Okay, now we can get a puppy?”  I have seen this man marry off his daughters, hold his grandchildren in his arms, and bury his loved ones with out shedding a tear but his emotions were there on his face for all to witness.  A few quiet words or a small gesture from my father conveys a whole conversation of emotion.  Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino has nothing on my father!   

So back to those four simple words- “You’re your mother’s daughter.”  I am proud to say that I am also my father’s daughter.  We are all a product of the millions of people and connections that we make during our lifetimes.  But our parents become the heroes of childhood, the dreams of what success means, and the sculptors of our personality.  During a time of crisis at the steel plant, one of my father’s employees told me that “my father was the best manager and he wouldn’t do anything to harm him if he had to cross the picket line.”  What respect!  So I hope to be my father’s daughter, with a strong work ethic, personal responsibility and the compassion to do what is right.  Thank you Dad!

Happy Father's Day to Dad's, Grandpa's, Uncle's, 
and Father figures everywhere! 
Be sure to leave your favorite Father's Day memory! 

Melissa Keir- Sexy Between the Covers @http://www.melissakeir.com 

20 comments:

Kristen Brockmeyer said...

What a great post - thank you for sharing with us. My dad has a lot of the same qualities as yours (except with four daughters, instead of five!) and I'm proud to say that I'm, too, my mother's AND my father's daughter.

Lynda Bailey said...

Lovely post, Melissa!
My pops was a man of few words and stoic emotions, but I never doubted he loved me!
Happy Father's Day to all!

Cara Marsi said...

Melissa, what a wonderful tribute to your dad. How lucky you were to have such a wonderful man in your life.

Daryl Devore said...

Beautifully written.

Toni Kelly said...

This is a lovely post, Melissa. Thanks so much for sharing your father with us. You essay makes me think about my own father and memories I hold as important. Happy early Father's Day to you and yours!

Tina Donahue said...

Beautiful post, Melissa. Brought tears to my eyes. You were very lucky to have a wonderful father like that.

BTW: Love your banner - it's gorgeous. :)

Sandy said...

Thank you for a wonderful post, Melissa. My husband reminds me of your dad, but he show emotions a bit more. He taught his children to be responsible, and all them are hard workers.

Judy Baker said...

Great post Melissa. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about you and your family, and your dad. I dad was a quiet man and never spoke ill about anyone.

Rose Anderson said...

What a lovely post. Thanks for sharing, Melissa. :)

vicki batman said...

Hi, Melissa! What a lovely post. I, too, come from a family of four girls.

D'Ann said...

Great post! I love my dad so much! He's my hero for a lot of the same reasons you cite here. I have two sister, can't imagine more!

Naomi Bellina said...

Nice tribute to your Dad. They often get overlooked in the shadow of Mother's Day, so it's good to remember them. I'll shed a few tears this year as I think of my recently departed dad.

Melissa Keir said...

Thank you everyone for stopping by. My dad and I recently had a daddy/daughter day where I went and spent the night at his house. It was nice to listen to him talk about the past and realize that he's so much more than the person I knew growing up.

I'm so fortunate to have him in my life and also for all of you! Thank you for your support of me and my writing. You guys rock!

Paris said...

Wonderful post, Melissa. Thanks for sharing your family with us, you were a lucky girl!

Andrea Cooper said...

Such a wonderful post. It sounds like you have a connection with your father. I too remember the 'don't wake your father'.
One of my favorite memories I have was when my son was born and my dad held him for the first time and then couldn't believe I had had a boy. He had wanted sons, but only had two daughters. Now he has 6 grandsons and 2 granddaughters.

Melissa Keir said...

Thank you all for sharing and tweeting about the blog. My poor dad didn't know what he was in for with five daughters. Luckily he had two sisters and could understand girls. :)

My son was the first boy born in our family since my dad. My baby sister had a son as well. It appears that the boys are few and far between in our family of mostly girls. But my dad always taught us to take care of ourselves and to do what we enjoyed!

I'm so glad I have him in my life and want to wish each of you a wonderful Father's Day with the fabulous men in your lives.

Liza O'Connor said...

Wow, what a touching post. Makes me want to share. Despite referring to my dad as one of my feral cat parents, I loved him very much. He didn't have a clue how to raise children, no sense of safety issues at all, a raging temper that scared me to death, cooked the most god awful food and would make me eat stuff that he pulled out of the garbage can, but he was by far my best parent and I always loved him. He would play with me and drag me about on his foot when I was little. He taught me to work hard and pay for things myself early in life. He taught me about AC & DC currents, amps and voltage when I was seven. We built a primitive computer when I was a teen,and while he found fault with every specific thing I did, overall he thought me a fabulous person. He loved my sense of humor when I wrote short stories about school. He was a man of many words, many of which I wished he would have kept to himself, but he loved me, so I loved him back even when it was hard to. He's been dead many years now, so now I can talk to him and he can't talk back. We get along really well now.

Melissa Keir said...

Liza- Sometimes that's the best conversations to have. I'm glad you have positive memories of your father too!

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Jenna said...

Such a touching tribute! My father had only one child--me--and I was more than enough. My favorite memories are of helping him in his garden. He loved growing vegetables and we ate very well because of it. I planted potatoes every St. Patrick's day, helped set out tomato plants in May, picked beans and squash and tomatoes when they came in and helped him dig potatoes. I learned how to cook collards from him and each year my relatives comment on how I cook them just like him. He's been gone nine years now, but I still feel very close to him.

Melissa Keir said...

Jenna,
It's a wonderful tribute to your father that you cook like him. :) There's something special about the bond between father and daughter. I'm glad you shared your story.

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