Today I made what I thought was a totally inane, random, and innocuous decision that could not have possibly had any bearing on anything. Then, I thought twice about that assessment and it inspired me to write this blog post...
While getting dressed in the quiet dark of my home early this morning, I chose to wear my Merrells to work. Merrells are a brand of comfortable footware for active types. A little casual for work. But it's a Friday and I dressed them up with a button down shirt and a tie.
|My Merrels sit, calling me, in my closet|
You see, these are no ordinary shoes. They are the same pair I bought my father just weeks before he passed away. My father, who often complained about not having comfortable shoes to wear. Who just a month before I bought him the Merrells was - for reasons unknown - stuffing teabags in his shoes to make them more comfortable. Apparently, he was just as crazy as I am. In fact, those teabags set off a security alert at an airport during a family trip to Disney World. It was then I decided to buy my dad a decent pair of sporty, comfortable walking shoes.
I bought him the same pair I myself owned, since I loved mine so much. And he raved about them. Loved them. Wore them constantly. "I've never had such comfortable shoes in my life," he boasted. Mission accomplished.
Shortly thereafter, my father passed away. We buried him in those shoes. Ever since, I have made it a point to own the exact same pair. One wears off, I buy another. It's almost time for a new pair. "They're not really in style anymore," my wife told me when I brought it up. "I don't care," I said. "I don't wear them to be fashionable."
Maybe my dad was saying something to me because I haven't had one of my better weeks as a dad. I've been short-tempered, impatient, distracted. And it has shown in my interactions with my daughter, and in her reactions to me. Not good. Not good at all.
Was my dad telling me that I'm following in his footsteps? That he wasn't perfect and I'm not perfect and the Peanut won't be perfect... so relax?
Was he telling me that I am now walking a mile in his shoes? And asking me to forgive his mistakes, and that Peanut will forgive mine?
Or was I just extra tired on a Friday morning and over-analyzing my decision to pick a particular pair of shoes?
I think it's a little bit of all three. But it shows that my dad is with me somehow. That maybe he's watching. And if he is, he's noticing what I'm doing, how I'm doing it. Or if he's not, at least I’m thinking about him, keeping him alive in my thoughts and my deeds.
Being a dad isn't easy. And doing it without your dad makes it that much more difficult. I know I've made mistakes. I know I'll make more. But I know that everything I do, every decision I make, every thought that I have somehow involves my daughter. Right or wrong, Directly or indirectly. Fair or unfair.
Someday the Peanut might question, or mock, why I'm wearing that same old dirty pair of Merrells. And it'll be another opportunity for me to tell her another story about my dad. And maybe that's why I wore those shoes today.