Today is my birthday. I'm heading out momentarily to hit a water park with family and then we're having a large BBQ & Birthday cake celebration this evening - a combo of my b-day and Fathers Day.
Being born on this day means that I have shared many a Father's Day. This has always been pretty special to me as I've always heard from my Dad that I was his very best Father's Day gift. This seems like a pretty sentiment that most father's would probably bestow on their children, but being the oldest of five (and many 'oldest' will understand this well), meant that I grew up faster, more was expected of me, and generally, I rarely had the 'soft' side of my dad.
When my dad was on death's door a couple of years ago during his drug-hazed and hurt filled days, I had both the privilege and pain of being the oldest. I bared his bad moods, performed as gate keeper and information gatherer, was the family voice and shoulder for my (step)mom. It wasn't easy, and actually, it down right sucked - but after all the dust had settled and life became our new normal, I had the unexpected realization that I was very, very fortunate to be exactly who I am.
I am a capable, curious, emotional and able to stand up on my own two feet. I am sometimes weird, like to laugh the most, and make others laugh. I know I can face any monster for those I love, and can stand tall at the door of tragedy. I can do all those things because of my dad - he gave me all the tools I need and plated them all in gold with those rare "you're my best gift" moments.
So, when I started to read Jenny Lawson's memoir about her life, the first several chapters were about her very eccentric dad and I thought that pretty cool. Without going into story after story, believe me, I could relate to eccentric (see picture below). Things that she described didn't seem too out of the ordinary to me, thought she insisted that it was NOT NORMAL. As if 'normal' is something that you can fit into a box and 'not normal' is something she could claim all to herself. She grew up rural, and if anyone has any experience in rural, you know that every day is far different than city life.
This irked me to such a degree that I DID NOT want to finish this book. Unfortunately, because it was a bookclub selection, I felt rather obligated to. So I pressed on.
The worst for me is that through her dad's unorthodox exploits, Lawson seemed to point to these circumstances for the basis of her mental illness. Which seemed strange, to say the least. Once she moved past her early years, things evened out a bit, but I alternated between rooting for her and wanting to quit. It was a frustrating experience. I wanted to see a message or be inspired in some way, even if it was to have a laugh, but I couldn't get around the fact that it was always at someone else's expense (i.e. her father), and rarely hers.
I'm glad I finished it for the simple fact that I was able to see her own personal triumph and there is something to be said for that, but most of all, I'm glad I finished so that I could write this review.
My own personal memoir would be rich with my dad's antics. We've had the most incredible fights, long conversations, running jokes and experiences together. I am blessed every single day that he's still in my life (one which he still fights for each day) and when he's weird, I remember that I get to be weird with him.
I snapped this photo the other day at my son's baseball game. My dad has always had a ridiculous sense of fashion. Or, I should say, his personal fashion has always caused me great embarrassment. At my age, I've become rather immune to it, but it all came screaming back to me when he walked up from the parking lot on this particular day and I realized that his clothes-craziness was my son's problem now.
Here he is sporting his man bag, knee high-hunting socks (likely wool blend - it's like mid-80's out), some type of Sketcher loafer, cargo shorts with palm-tree pattern and a shirt that likely has the Three Stooges on the front. Oh, and his requisite Royals cap.