For as long as I can remember, I have always been referred to as “my father’s daughter”. When
I was young, I assumed that it was because I looked just like him. I found it strange at the time because I am a girl. But I do look just like him!
My Bond With My Dad
My father and I have always had a special bond. For as long as I can remember he has believed in me, regardless of my limitations, setbacks, and insecurities.
There is one instance that will always stand out and is the epitome of his belief that I can do anything. It happened when I was barely seven years old (I may have even been younger, but I cannot remember). My dad took me to the mall with him to buy weights (I cannot recall a time when they were ever used, but they were bought). He said, “Nips (my nickname that can be discussed at another time), I will carry the box of weights and you can carry the bar.” Hmmm…the bar was twice my size in height, and it was HEAVY! I didn’t want to disappoint my dad, but a 7-year-old has their limits.
Just as my father would have done in the same situation, I dropped the bar in the middle of the mall and refused to move. Just like my father, I was (and still can be) stubborn. I am now seeing a reason why they call me “my father’s daughter”.
There have been many instances like the one in the mall. There have also been many great experiences between myself, my dad, my mom, and my sister that will remain etched in my mind. Since his death, remembering why I have earned the title of “my father’s daughter” has given me peace and strength.
My Father’s Diagnosis
When my dad received the devastating diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in September 2023, I decided that I will fulfill my role as “my father’s daughter”; the good, the bad, and the love he had for his family. Regardless of the stage of life we were all in, no matter what we were going through, no one could deny the love my dad had for my mom, my sister, myself, and his four amazing grandchildren. Without question, I loved my dad so much. I love how he supported me. I love how he was my biggest fan and I especially love how proud he was of me.
Lucky me, when my son, Ryan was about 2 years old, my parents sold my childhood home and moved to a brand-new home. It was seven minutes from my house. Ryan and my daughter, Eliana, are so lucky to have their loving grandparents close by to watch them grow (and to babysit)!
At the time of my father’s diagnosis, we all felt the “luck” of having our homes close by. I took advantage of this time to learn and understand as an adult why I am referred to as “my father’s daughter”. During the six short months of his illness, my dad never lost his smile or the sparkle in his eye whenever I walked through the door. No matter how he was feeling, on his good days and his not-so-good days, I could always depend on walking into the house and seeing him sitting on his brown leather chair in the corner of the room. I still look at that chair, which is now empty. Most of the time I look at it with tears in my eyes, but I try to smile and remember him being there.
Our Father/Daughter Moments
I walked through that door almost every day during those six months so my mom could have time for herself. It was also time for me to share special moments with my father. I loved listening to his stories, a lot of them I never heard, and some were on repeat. I never dared to tell him that the story had already been told. I just listened and knew someday I would hold them close to my heart. Unfortunately, the someday came too fast.
The stories ranged from how he got his first job, to how he would get himself into trouble. My favorites were the stories with my mom. I will say that my father spent his entire life loving my mom regardless of the ups and downs that they had. This is something that I learned from our special moments together. It was a time that I learned about my parents as a couple, not as just “mom and dad”.
As I mentioned, my dad’s eyes had a sparkle when he looked at me. Even when he was in pain or in the hospital, I was able to depend on that sparkle. This kept me positive through all the setbacks that he had. I was never ready to accept that he was truly sick. I knew he was sick, but as “my father’s daughter” I also knew that he was stubborn and would fight, just as I did when I threw down the bar in the middle of the mall. Some would say that I was in some sort of denial, which is possible, but in my mind, if he had that sparkle, he would be okay.
Always My Father’s Daughter
Monday, February 6, 2023, I received a phone call from my mom that was, unfortunately, familiar during those 6 months. She said that Daddy was, once again, getting into an ambulance to go to the hospital. I ran out of work, as I always did, knowing somehow that this time was different.
It was different. The paramedics wheeled him into the emergency room, we locked eyes like we always did. This time there was no sparkle. Just sadness. Being “my father’s daughter”, I felt sadness and I was ready to accept his illness. The cancer won and my dad was ready to express his love for his family and say goodbye.
He did not say goodbye that day because he wasn’t finished making sure that we were all okay. His words were mumbled and sometimes difficult to understand. I was able to understand his messages of love because of our endless talks during the six months. I believe that he was able to say everything he wanted to say. Then he was finally able to close his eyes. His sparkly eyes were at peace and my mom, my sister, and I were all there to say goodbye with love in our hearts on February 8, 2023.
I love and miss my dad every day. He has missed so much in the short time he has been gone, but I know he is watching. He will forever be “The Wind Beneath My Wings” (the song we danced to together at my wedding), making sure that I continue to be a strong and stubborn fighter and to always carry that heavy bar throughout my life.
I can proudly say that my name is Robin, and I am “My Father’s Daughter.”