The other day after work I stopped by Target to pick up a screwdriver. And yes, it makes me feel very grown up. But the most interesting part of the experience was actually observing strangers and the impact it had on my memory. I saw a man, maybe late 30s or early 40s walking with his daughter to the check out lane. He looked nothing like my father and she looked nothing at all like me when I was her age. However, the moment I saw them, a flood of memories came rushing back.
You see, this man, this father, was shopping in Target in a suit and tie. Growing up, I remember that for so many of the important moments of my life, my father was present, watching, cheering, filming and all in a suit. Now it is important to understand that this was not necessarily a fashion statement on his part. But working in the business world, it has always been a part of his professional life.
My father is a hard working man who supported a family of five, giving us all we ever needed and every once in a while what we simply wanted. Although we were not necessarily spoiled (well the rest of them at least) it was because of responsible parenting on his and mom's behalf, not for lack of ability.
And while he was a very hard worker, and maybe did not have time to be with us as much as he would have liked (I'm sure if he had his way he would have spent ALL his time with me, cause I'm the most fun) he was in no way an absent father. But this is precisely why I remember my father best in a suit. He would leave early from work to come to my home basketball games, even occasionally taking the extra trip to come to away games. He was present at every concert, every recital, every play and every event they would let him watch. I even remember him and mom showing up to some golf meets (and to watch high school golf you must really love your child). Growing up, I knew that if my dad said he was going to be there, he would be there. I have learned in recent years just how amazing of a gift this truly was. Very few people have someone they can trust that completely, and yet my family is filled with them.
But more importantly, what I have come to realize is that none of this was pure coincidence. My father did not just happen to be there when I needed him. He did not just happen to be standing in the back with the video camera. He was not there because it was just convenient to give me a hug and tell me he was proud of me at the end my games. And by no means is it an accident that we built such a strong and loving relationship. Every day he chose to be there for his wife and kids. I am sure that sometimes it was easy and fit into his schedule, but I know that other times it was the tough decision between an important project and family. And for making those tough decisions, for being there when we needed him most, he was truly a father.
I am proud to be my father's daughter, and I will always smile when I see a stranger in a suit.