Fathers Be Good To Your Daughters…

11 Jun

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Because Father’s Day is next weekend, I have begun to reflect a little on my dad who died in 2003. Like all little girls, I fell madly in love with my dad because he was the male center of my universe. As John Mayer’s song says about fathers in relations to daughters, “You are the God and the weight of her world…. So fathers be good to your daughters…” 

In many ways, my father was a wonderful dad and in other ways he failed me miserably. But that is a subject for a therapy session not a blog entry. What I do want to say in honor of my father relates to the above photograph taken of he and I when I was in the sixth grade. I was running my first 10k (I don’t remember why he didn’t run it with me) and he was cheering me on for the last stretch of the way. It’s hard to see our faces in this post but if you were to look at the actual photograph, it confirms the adage – “A picture says a thousand words.” In this photo, my father’s face openly communicates his love for me and dispels any doubts that he might not of based on some of his actions.

Dad and I had a history of running together. In the fifth grade, he started training me to keep up with him on his daily jogs. Never the drill sergeant (even though he taught me songs to sing that he learned in the army reserves), he was a tender coach, always telling me, “You can do it. Keep going. You’re doing great. If you can do this, you can apply the discipline in other areas of your life. You can do it.”

I loved our runs. It gave us time to talk. And it satisfied our mutual natures of intensity that needed a physical release and form of mind/body quiet. I loved the feel of my own sweat (I know that sounds gross), the ache in my legs and the smells in the air depending on whether we ran in the morning or at night; on the beach or along Fuerte Street past a chicken ranch, honey suckle and jasmine. I loved the challenge of going uphill (there were lots in our neighborhood) and the glee of coasting down them. I loved my time with him and the feeling that I was special.

Besides providing quality time with my dad, running with him also fostered within me a healthy relationship with both exercise and my body. My dad ran for fun and for a release. Not because he felt he had to or because he was an exercise freak. He used to say, “A healthy body = a healthy mind. It’s all inter-related.” (He was a bit ahead of the mind/body movement). But even more important than this wisdom, dad taught me to love my body. He never chided me about weight or praised me for being thin. He simply said, “A healthy woman is an attractive woman. Guys like girls who are active and natural.” When I came home crying from school one day because some kid said my chest was as flat as a pancake (still is), my dad said, “Honey, don’t worry about it. Boobs are just two flabs of fat that will grow saggy when you age. Be glad you’re just the way you are. You’re perfect the way you are.” 

To this day I have never cared that my chest is flat as a pancake and have taken my dad’s advice that if one eats healthy and exercises, they don’t have to skip meals and deprive themselves of nourishment. My dad did good in this department. I am one of the only woman I know who doesn’t hate her body and this perception has nothing to do with my actual body; it’s simply because he taught me my body is my soul’s house and it is a gift from God. 

Yes, my dad did some major damage to my heart, but in the ways he was good, he was great. 

“Fathers be good to your daughters, daughters will love like you do…” (John Mayer).

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5 Responses to “Fathers Be Good To Your Daughters…”

  1. Kevin Brangwynne June 15, 2009 at 5:37 pm #

    Hi Lise! Great / touching post! A lesson here for us dads with sons also. BTW, it was very nice to meet you “live and in person” at the baptism yesterday and as I mentioned there, I think you have a lot of really good things to say and that you communicate them extremely well! Anyway, I’ll continue to “check in” and thanks so much for sharing your thoughts & insights!

  2. Tina June 21, 2009 at 12:11 am #

    I love what you are doing here. Keep up the good work!

    Tina

  3. lisesletters June 21, 2009 at 2:09 pm #

    Kevin and Tina – Thanks so much for your comments! Lise

  4. tcporter June 24, 2009 at 10:05 pm #

    I came across your blog through Ed’s. This post hits home because I lost my father too, in 96; and I have a 20 month old daughter that I’m crazy about. I obviously hope to be a good dad but I fear for myself. I could see me running in dress shoes beside her. Nice post, thanks.

  5. lisesletters June 24, 2009 at 11:35 pm #

    Thanks for stopping by on my blog, TC. I can sense your love for your daughter just in your comment. I’m sorry for your loss as well. Perhaps a little fear is just self-awareness in disguise that can only benefit a parent. Lise

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