Growing up, my folks always encouraged me to have my own ideals. They sometimes teased me about them but never discouraged me from being who I want to be. My dad once told me that I was weird but that was ok, it is what makes me special.When I started expressing myself by dying my hair different colors (ie bright reds, pinks, blues, multi colors, etc) in my early teens, they never thought it was odd. In fact, I think they were amused and secretly placed wagers behind my back on what funky color they thought I was going to dye my hair next! When I started to wear black and become a full fledged card carrying member of the goth community, they were not really surprised to see me ditching my punk/grunge look for the more macabre one.
|A picture of a picture.|
I think my dad often over looked a lot of my personal eccentricities because he was a bit of a rebel himself. He often questioned authority and never played by the rules. He always had the "don't like it, don't look" mentality that I have adopted. I remember in my early teens my dad bought a statue/light-post for the front of the house. The neighbors soon complained and were very rude about it. My dad smiled and went about his business - which meant, he was encouraged to buy more statues. One or two of them were quite nice, tasteful, even but that wasn't enough for dad! It was so embarrassing whenever friends would come over. All they needed to do was look for the house with the statues. This was a perfect landmark whenever I had to give directions to my house! I swear, my childhood home used to look like a mafia refugee house!
The more the neighbors bitched, the more statues would mysteriously come up. I think by the end of it, we had no more room! We had about 6 or 8 of those ugly things! My dad didn't stop there. He made a fountain with running water to also be put on the front lawn. He had fancy Greek or Italian designed flower pots all over the place with actual flowers inside. One of our neighbors commented that he was going to paint his windows black because our house was an eyesore. My dad politely asked him to hold that thought, went in his workshop and came out with two cans of black paint. He handed them to the guy!
Pardon the photo quality. These were taken from VERY old photos. I tried to use the scanner app on my phone but the flash got in the way. I could have taken off the flash but the photos would be darker. I think there was something wrong with the original photos (camera film) that we used back in the day before digital cameras. These statues have been taken down. It gives you an idea of what my folks had up in front of their house!
|these went all the way down the driveway almost right to the road|
|On the right hand side, he had lion statues carrying a shield or crest. I used to tell the neighborhood kids that they would come to life if they ventured on our property. I knew this because I was the witch who enchanted them!|
I used to make also fun of my dad for owning a Speedo bathing suit. He purchased it in the nineties when neon colors were all the rage but wore it until he died - which was the early 2000s. The Speedo was black but the front part had all these neon colors...what a great crotch enhancer. My dad would get even with me for ridiculing him. As a teenager, that bathing suit embarrassed the shit out of me. He knew when I would have friends coming over (that was the cool thing about my folks, I was allowed to have friends over all the time) he would purposely walk out in the middle of the front yard while wearing that horrible Speedo, shout out to me and wave with his beer gut hanging out! He loved watching my reaction and loved it even more when I would give him shit for it after my friends went home!
I got tattooed not long after his death in honor of him but what I failed to realize, I am also honoring him in a different way. You see, he taught me to be myself and to love me for being me! I do not need to conform in order to be accepted.
In a small way, I am also honoring my dad by passing down this knowledge to my son. Philip told me very recently that his friends at school sometimes make some mean spirited remarks with regards to the pepperoni he has in his lunch. Curious, I asked him what he told these kids and how he feels about it. His answer made me beam with pride "I don't care what they say. I like it and I told them that. I like it and they don't have to look at it or eat it. It is my lunch!" You go, kid!
It doesn't necessarily mean that someone is gone that their story ends. As I write this with tears in my eyes, I remember the last words he spoke to me on the day he died: "I love you, Sylvie. I am proud of you. No matter what choices you make in your life, good or bad, I will be always be proud of you." My dad was never a sentimental man and I thought it was odd at that time he would say these things to me. Today, I am glad he did. As I look at how I parent my son and at the life lessons I teach him, I look back to those very lessons I learned from my dad as a child. It is only now, I can see why he is proud of me and how I wish he could be with me so I could tell him all this. The only birthday present I can give you, Dad, is by offering you my gratitude. Thanks for helping me become the strong yet nutty woman I am today. The Padawan has now become the Jedi Master.