“That’s a terrible picture of you,” my Dad told me after I showed him one of my HelloGiggles articles. “Why are you making that face? People are going to think something is wrong with your face. You say you get mocked for living in New Jersey and Lancaster, and they’ll think the real reason you get mocked is since your nose looks like a light bulb in that picture.” “Fine, I’ll change it.” “You have better pictures! You chose THAT one to represent you?” “Dad, okay. Did you like the article?” “Yeah, the article was fine.”
I love my Dad. After I graduated college in 2006, I was “forced” to move back home to live with him and find a job and trust me, neither of us seemed particularly happy about the arrangement. While we never had spats, my Dad – who had retired two years prior – had been living by himself for two and a half years, after my Mom passed away. Being a self-centered graduate, I saw the move as torture. Most of my college friends were still around, and being separated from them was just one huge anxiety attack. Honestly, it also terrified me to be back home full time, for the first time, without my Mom around.
Things got off to a rocky start. The job search was going slowly, and I kept myself holed up in the TV room comforted by AOL Instant Messenger and the ABC Family Channel. At five o’clock every day, my Dad and I reunited from our designated floors and went out to get dinner. Throughout our daily conversations and “breakfast for dinner” routines at the local diner, my Dad and I reached a common ground. We also realized that a lot of our fears, worries, and thoughts about life were nearly identical. We learned how to co-exist once again, and I truly enjoyed every minute of my time with him.
My Dad is also a local celebrity. Being employed by our town’s school district for the entirety of his career, he constantly ran into old students and teachers. At first it was a bit embarrassing, but I got used to it – and later appreciated it. How many of you would make a conscious effort to say hello and shake hands with your old Middle School Vice Principal? My Dad’s approach to the work environment was one I had hoped to adopt – treat people with respect. Treat people like humans, and always remember that humans make mistakes. Always be nice, but don’t be a pushover. The respect you’ll receive by offering the same respect back will be monumental.
My Dad has also become a celebrity amongst my friends. They always ask how he’s doing, and many of my male friends have swarmed me with positive feedback on his facial hair. Let’s face it – my Dad is not a biker nor a sea captain, but pretty much rocks a legendary mustache.
I’m no longer living at home and I realize that I would never take any of that time back. I got to know my Dad on a friend level, as opposed to just a daughter level and during those two years I lived with him, he became one of my best friends. A lot of my mannerisms and way of thinking are directly stemmed from him, and only during that time did I realize how much responsibility he holds for the person I am today. I never go a day without knowing how proud of me he is, both through my rough patches and my shining moments. Light-bulb-nose picture and all.