Before he passed away in my early twenties, my daddy was a bit of an enigma in my life. He was often in the wind and I would sometimes go years without speaking to or seeing him. I knew other people for whom the absence of a parent meant a lot of trauma and grief. This was not the case for me. I felt at peace with how little I saw of my dad. When we did catch up, our conversations were easy and relaxed, like I was filling in an old friend on the happenings of my life and getting the same in return. I had many parental figures in my life: my mom, my grandparents, my aunt, and sometimes my older sister. It was honestly a relief to have one less person to answer to during my reckless teens and early twenties.
I've often asked myself why — or better yet, how — I managed to avoid resenting my dad for his unwillingness to be an active parent. A huge part of it was because of the memories that were made together when he was around. When national cheer competitions would air on ESPN, he would record them on VHS tapes for us to watch together later. We both loved sketch comedy that I was probably too young to be watching. He was a drummer and when he would have local sets, he’d let me play around on whatever drum set had been provided by the band. When we’d drive around in the car, I’d get such a kick out of him beatboxing his own drum line on top of songs that were playing on the radio. One time he threatened to beat up one of his friends on my behalf and I never felt more protected.
For some reason, it has been easy to rely on these memories of him, the ones that were formed before I was old enough to question why parenting never seemed to be at the top of his list of things to do. We weren’t close, but I loved him and I knew he loved me, and that was ok. Talking to my mom about him allowed me to settle into this acceptance even more. She often reminded me of the ways that my father and I were alike. Our mutual love for certain kinds of music, our senses of humor, and our willingness to follow opportunities and sometimes our moods wherever they would take us.