It is Daddy Day 2020. I am waking up in my double bed alone, remembering the dream that repeatedly showed up during my childhood. I would be sliding down the hill next to our garage; when I landed at the bottom, my head ended up in a sack of flour, and when I pulled my head out, my nose had grown long, like Pinocchio’s. Then dad would appear to wipe off my long nose with a washcloth.
I don’t remember when that dream stopped; thinking, sensing it was in high school when I connected that dad was the one to come and help me. He was the parent who nurtured me with loving acceptance, not my mother. She was much more rigid about our behavior having to reflect the ‘born again’ religion we were raised in. No smoking. (dad did in the cellar) No drinking. (fine) No secular movies in the theater (not so fine), and above all no dancing after elementary age (bad), learned in my thirties, that my mother had said, “Leave her alone, she’ll get over it.” NO. I created a protective shell around myself, like a turtle, slowly burying my feelings deeper and deeper. Even during nursing school, when my dad noted in one of his many introspective, sensitive, loving letters: missing demonstrations of your affection. Wondering why. Tears ooze because I cannot remember what I wrote back. I vehemently wish I could! We both cradled our fear to speak face-to-face. Or, to say I love you, although we wrote it to one another many times, before he died of a sudden heart attack at age 60, me being heart-broken at 31.
Since, I have become increasingly closer to him in my heart, by rescuing my tears. Daily. If need BE.
This spring, I discover two letters dad wrote to my mother when they were falling in love on the ship Huddleston, returning from WWII. Likewise, I continue to fall in love with my dad as I EVOLve, rubbing tears into my cheeks as healing medicine. Will I ever be less disappointed when I hear similar messages like Jennifer Lopez saying, “Don’t cry” to a group of Latina dancers on World of Dance this week?
Will I remember how my dad was my savior when he washed the lie off my face in my dream: the lie that I need religion to be saved from hell? To feel deeply loved by him. YES.