I have my father’s nose. I find this to be a bit upsetting sometimes. It’s French, the nose, that is, and if you were to Google “French noses” a photo of Gerard Depardieu would probably be first in line. But luckily, my nose doesn’t look like Depardieu’s and neither does my father’s. However, it’s still French and has garnered such adjectives as “unique.” Yeah, it’s unique all right.
Physical attributes aside, I am pretty much my father through and through. I share his passion (read: obsession) for music, his flare for the dramatic, his sometimes erratic behavior, his bizarre sense of humor, his tendency toward being morbid, and a beautiful compassion for the world around me, even if my hard exterior might sometimes suggest otherwise. I’m a New Yorker, I had to grow a spine made of steel instead of one made of glass.
I can say without a doubt, that I am the woman I am today because of my father – both my parents, to be exact. Along with teaching me basics like following my dreams, to pick myself up off the floor when life gives me the shaft, he taught me 5 things in particular that I carry with me on a daily basis – even if I never really got the hang of some of them.
1. Be kind to animals. Have you ever seen someone screech their car to a halt to run into traffic to save a turtle from an untimely death? That’s my father. Snakes, wounded bunnies and birds that may have already been the victims of an oncoming car, my father has scooped them up, gotten them to other side or taken them to the nearest vet if need be. I used to think it was just a matter of time before my father was killed himself by a car in the pursuit of saving the life of an animal. But to quote one of his favorite films, The Last Samurai, that would be a “good death.”
2. Care maintenance. Every weekend when I went home from college, my father would stand over my car, the front hood up, scratch his head and ask me if I had checked the oil. The answer would always be no. More than a few times, he’d try to teach me how to change the oil and fill up the thing where the windshield cleaner liquid goes. See? I don’t even know what that stuff is called. He tried though, and it’s something I catch myself giggling about when I walk past someone who is clearly checking their oil – or at least I think that’s what they’re doing.
3. Life is too short to not have dessert. A very true statement from a man who never goes without dessert. And something I’ve tried to practice religiously – against my will, of course.
4. Never go to bed angry. The morbid side of my father assumes that everyday is his last day. Although he’s healthy and a young 64, he melodramatically has claimed that every summer that passes is his last. So with that in mind, he has said time and time again to never go to bed angry, because, well, “what if you die in the middle of the night, Mandy?” Um, OK, daddy. Still, it’s something I’ve taken to heart and have tried to implement in my life.
5. Put family first. My father is the true definition of a family man. There is nothing he wouldn’t do for his family, and when he lost his job during the recession in the late 1980′s my sister and I didn’t even feel the difference in our comfy lives. He somehow made it work. He’s my biggest fan and reads The Grindstone everyday – he’s also been pitching me ideas, too. My father has said since the day I was born that “no other man will ever love you as much as I do.” And it’s true.
My father has taught both my sister and I to be successes in our own right. My sister, the amazing mother of two little boys; and me, the writer in New York City. He instilled in us strength of heart, independence, confidence and when to laugh in the face of heartache. So, maybe I forgot to send a Father’s Day card this year, but I’m hoping this will make up for it. Thank you, Dad.