7.24.2009

Dad

I'm fairly certain I met Dad shortly after I was born in the delivery room. My dad worked at a bank and was my favorite guy. I didn't really know what my dad did for a long time, only that he was my dad. I used to climb on his back in the pool and he would shout, "ready?!" I would reply, "Yes!" and take a deep gulp of air clinging to his shoulders. Dad would dive under water and swim to the bottom of the 10 foot deep end of the pool. We would just float down there looking around and swimming until I tapped him on the shoulder just as I was running out of air. I tried and succeeded at lengthening the amount of time I could hold my breath underwater. It was magical down there.
When Sharen and I were little Dad had to figure out how to get work done with us underfoot. So he would have us pick strawberries and bought little mini garden tools and put us to work. Sharen and I used to have our own brushes that we would use to scrub the lining of the pool. Sometimes we would do it even when we weren't asked, it was an excuse to be in the pool! We ran errands and just followed him around while he did things. I loved getting to see what my dad did when he did things. He just seemed so important. Wednesdays were dad's half days at the bank. In the spring and fall Sharen and I would get off the bus from school and dad would be standing in the driveway. We would all pile in the car and spend the afternoon and early evening at Cedar Point, we had season passes and we got our moneys worth out of them.
Saturday mornings were cleaning days at the Linn house. We would be up early and get cracking. After awhile Mom would get to making some chocolate chip cookies and it would be break time. I remember sitting snuggled on Dad's lap watching This Old House and smelling the cookies baking in the kitchen.

Dad worked hard and was good at what he did, he still is. But he would play with us and be silly too. He would dress up and swim for hours at a time. He would swoop us up in Daddy hugs and just love us. He would do weird things, like grab the edge of the sofa as he walked past and pretend the sofa was pulling him back. He called bras algebraziers, and later called algebra that too.
Dad didn't get mad often, but when he did you knew you had pushed it to far.
We fought and I pushed as I got older. I had all sort of notions of my value (my value being next to zero) and his expectations of me. I just knew I was going to disappoint him, so after awhile I just stopped trying and began trying to actively get him to reject me.

When I dropped out of YSU he was on board with requiring me to go to therapy. One afternoon I was sitting in my room crying and he came in and sat down beside me. He asked me why I was so unhappy, he waved his arm around and asked what it was that made me so unhappy. I just couldn't even speak I was crying so hard. He wrapped his arms around me and told me he loved me. What I longed to believe, but the lies in my head were louder and told me he had to say that because he was my dad. But that he didn't really love me. Dad asked me what made me happy, what was it that I liked. I couldn't tell him, not a single thing. I told him things that he liked and he said, well that's what I like, but what do you like? I cried harder and harder as I tried to tell him something anything that would please him. But I couldn't. Because I was a deeply unhappy and angry girl and looking back I can see that what would have pleased him was a happy and smiling girl. He told me to try to figure out one thing, anything that made me happy. It was a long time before I could, but a little bit sunk in that day that he wanted me to be happy. I just didn't know how to be that girl.

A few months after this my friend was killed. I had stayed at Alaina's that night and had gone home to clean up while dad was at work. I was in the Clink's kitchen when my dad walked in dressed to the nines in his work suit. Everyone in the kitchen stopped, thinking he was with the police but I just stared at him, my eyes filling with tears and I ran into his arms. We just stood there like that for a few minutes, just holding onto each other. Every time I saw him for several weeks we would just hug and hug. I just didn't know what to do or where to go from there. Time stopped for several weeks and I just cried more than I knew I was able to.
During that time I had told my mom and dad both about some of the things that were being said to me, confessed to me, as a direct result of my friends death. Things that I was to naive and young to truly process on top of being a sad and angry girl and so lost in grief. Dad had long been opposed to how involved I got in other peoples drama. He would tell me that I couldn't separate myself from their problems and that I was to involved. He was right in a way. I was in way over my head. I still contend that being involved with people in the thick of things, slugging it out in the joy and the sorrow is 100% worth it. But I also have a higher capacity for those things now then I did then. Back then I was barely keeping myself alive let alone keeping anyone else's head above water.

I moved to Bowling Green in the fall of 2000 and started working in the call center of the bank Dad worked for. We would have lunch regularly and it was a time that we really able to connect in a different way. I was still a pretty sad and angry girl, but I was much more adept at keeping it quiet.
In 2002 John and I broke up. I called mom and dad as I pulled out of his driveway, I was ugly crying. I mean UGLY crying. I told them I needed to come over. After the events of the last few years I can't even imagine what they must have thought. I pulled in their driveway and ran into their arms at the door. I was crying to hard to tell them anything about what happened, so they both patted me down looking for wounds that weren't visible to the naked eye. When I finally calmed down long enough to talk I told them about John and I breaking up. My dad asked me if I wanted him to fire bomb anything, which made me laugh because my dad is not the fire bombing type. But the three of us just sat there for awhile. I was moving closer to a happy girl, feeling them there beside me on the sofa.

Christmas Eve of that year I went to church with Dad and Mom and was shattered by God. I would sneak back and forth to church and finally told them about my torrid love affair with Jesus. Dad was there when I was baptized in September and was there at the 10th anniversary party later that fall. He and I were sitting in their living room one random everyday day and he looked at me and said, "You know I was skeptical about Cedar Creek, wondering about all their overhead costs and staffing costs and if it was really necessary" (Because my dad is a numbers guy) "But then I look at you and everything they've done to help you just turn yourself around and it doesn't much matter because I'm so proud of you and how far you've come"

Because sometimes, all a little girl wants is for her dad to tell her he's proud of her.

I moved to Cincinnati in 2004 and would talk to my dad on the phone a lot about money things and he was who I called when I decided to start tithing. I made pitiful money at the bookstore part time and was in way over my head with debt and bills. So when I decided to start tithing I told him because if God didn't show up then he was the backup plan. Dad said, "You know I think that's great. But you need to remember that the way God rewards your faithfulness with your money isn't always going to be with money. Just keep your eyes open for his blessings in forms other than big fat checks" It was true. After months of going back and forth with Cincinnati State about transferring my credits from the million colleges I'd gone to and them stating that NOTHING would transfer I was told that EVERYTHING transferred. That catapulted me from 1st quarter freshman to last quarter sophomore. (Not that I've moved much past that status in the time since...)

Dad was the one that slugged through the John, Mae and Betty drama so hard and for so long. He protected Mom, Sharen and I from a lot of the ugly that was happening. It was much harder on him than he ever let on until the end. He was the one that sat in the basement of their house in BG and told us about Johns lies and deception. He's the one that broke the news to us that this man we thought so pure and good was really not.

When I was deciding to buy a house Dad was the one that I talked to the most about if I could buy a house. Not for his permission, just for his help with amortization and all those fun numbers. He drove down for the closing and helped me sign my life away. He dreams with me about what we can do to improve my house and he puts in the blood and sweat to help make it happen.

I'm not sure I could have asked for a better dad. Even with all his flaws and imperfections he is a great dad. I just want to make him proud. Proud of what I do with my life, how I spend my money and my time, proud of the relationships I nurture.

Dad has taught me generosity and strength. He's taught me that you don't always have to fill up the world with a million words, that sometimes silence speaks just as loudly. He's taught me hard work and perseverance, kindness and compassion. Dad's taught me honoring your commitments and the value of relationships within the community. He's taught me the value of a dollar and that money isn't the most important thing in your life, it's just money.
My dad also worked very hard to break a cycle of behavior that his dad had. One that I hear wasn't that kind. I would hear he and mom talking at night about it and him wondering if he was a good dad, doing a good job and not acting like his dad. I don't remember his dad, only the snippets here or there that I heard about him. But my dad, was a good dad. I hope that I make him proud of me, I love him very much.

7 comments:

jake - aka the comment novelist said...

Your parents are such beautiful people. I really enjoyed reading these two posts and getting to know the "real" them a little better.

James said...

Beth, this made my mascara run. Great post!

James

ellenjane said...

James, I didn't know you wore mascara! Also, this post wasn't about sports...as my dad doesn't really watch them unless he's with a group that's going to a public sporting event. :gasp:

But thanks :)

Pete said...

Um yeah, I'm going to have to stop reading these in the mornings. It's hard to answer customers when they ask why my eyes are so red. I have to blame it on my contacts.

James said...

Pete, how do you explain your mascara running, though?

James said...

Hey Beth, I found video, from the future. Specifically, it's a video of your wedding, the first 5 minutes anyway. Great stuff!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-94JhLEiN0&feature=player_embedded

ellenjane said...

James it didn't embed and I can't look it up on You Tube b/c the URL isn't working. :)