I grew up without my dad. I never really understood what a dad was or why a dad was significant when I was growing up. I saw my dad on a handful of occassions, but never really felt I had connected with him - until last summer.
Last August, my father's grandmother was on her deathbed, and he flew home to say his last goodbyes. It was the first time I had laid eyes on him in 15 years.
Just so you can put this in perspective, I never really felt like I fit in very well with my mom and brother and sister. Or the rest of my family, for that matter. I seemed to think and feel differently about the world than they did. Simply put, I was a fish out of water.
Please don't think my family was mean to me about it. I really believe that they accept and appreciate me with all my quirks - in fact, we often remember my zaniness with love, acceptance and appreciation - as well as giggles and guffaws at family get-togethers. Being different is no longer an issue for me, but it definitely makes life with me more interesting. :)
Having come to a place of (relative) maturity, sitting down and talking to my father was a revelation for me. In spite of growing up almost entirely devoid of his influence, I had become akin to my father. The flash temper, the gregarious personality, the tendency to get close to very few people (the moat of detachment from which we safely observe the world), so open and yet so closed, the disdain for status quo and the rules of society, the intense self-rule that dictates justice and fairness and love and concern for the precious ones in life, the rebellious hellion, the devoted lover and parent...he is all of this and so am I.
I am glad I had the opportunity to get to know my father. I can say for the first time in my life, I understand what a father is and why he is so important. I not only have an appreciation for him now, but I feel like I really, truly have a love in my heart for him that is not born of obligation or duty. I know this guy, he is like me.
Thank you, dad, for everything you've given me that is me, and everything I needed that I never knew you gave. I love you.