The Top Ten Favorite Things About My Dad
So my dad is pretty wonderful, and I've known that for a long time. When I was younger, it was the typical idol worship an only daughter can experience as a daddy's girl. But as I've grown up and seen and learned more, that idol worship has evolved into a sense of respect, love, and appreciation.
With Father's Day just around the corner, it seems like the perfect time to step back and think about some of my favorite things about the man, the myth, the legend that is Tim Spiro.
So without further ado, here's a Top Ten list of my favorite things about my dad, in no particular order:
- The way he's Mr. Fix-It, but not in the typical sense. I don't view him as a Tim 'The Tool Man' Taylor type of guy, even though he could spend tireless amounts of time trying to figure out why the VCR/DVD Player/whatever isn't connecting to the TV. I mean that he's the kind of guy who helps out in a jam, whatever the jam might be. He wants to help people whenever he can, in whatever way he can.
- The way he holds his glasses when he reads. Whether it's reading a menu, the newspaper, a work document, a piece a mail, anything with print - he always looks above the lenses of his glasses and holds the paper close to his face. Or he'll take his glasses off and have one of the stems in his mouth with his eyes wide and looking upward.
- The way he listens (and sings along) to Frank Sinatra. My earliest memories of my dad involve driving in the car with him to school or wherever and listening to Frank Sinatra's music - often times, it was his Duets album. I always thought his voice sounded just like Frank's when he'd sing along, with the same cadence and pausing and phrasing as Old Blue Eyes. His hand moved in the air with each big band note like he was conducting. His love of Frank Sinatra is known by all and explains the countless repeated giftings of CD sets, books, and films.
- The way he pretends to know how to swing dance. Ever since I was younger, my dad had me dancing with him with my feet on his feet. And as I got older, we would dance together at functions and he'd spend the entire time twisting me around, twirling, and swinging our arms to the music. For our father-daughter dance at my wedding, I knew we couldn't do a typical slow dance to a sweetly sappy song. Instead, we fudged our way through a swinging rendition of Frank Sinatra's "I've Got the World on a String" - no lessons, just us.
- The way he treated me like a little lady, but also made me a jock. I can throw a football, swing a bat, catch a fly ball, shoot hoops, all thanks to my dad and the fact that I grew up between two brothers. Some of my fondest memories of growing up involve playing baseball into all hours of the night in a vacant lot down the street from our house, with our golden retriever Dakota as the outfielder chasing after our hits. He also made sure that he took all of us kids to the Tigers and Lions and Pistons and Red Wings games, not just leaving me at home because I was a girl. I'm all about ruffles and flowers and vintage dresses, but throw me a ball and I'll catch it.
- The way he taught me to be respectful of adults. With only a year and a half between us, my younger brother and I argued constantly. I honestly feel really bad for my parents when I think about how rotten we were to each other. But I'll never forget when we were at my dad's work one day as really young kids and we acted up in front of some important people. He spoke with us in private either after that moment or later that evening, and told us that we had been disrespectful and needed to apologize. Whether it was that same day or the next, we both apologized to the men for how we acted. While the details are blurry, it's something I'll never forget, and a lesson in acting politely and respectfully to all I encounter.
- The way he explained the value of a dollar. When it came time to learn about my family's history for various school projects, my dad told me about his grandfather - my great grandfather - and how he came to America with barely any money in his pocket. He didn't have a place to stay, and he worked very hard at whatever job he could get. As a kid, it can be difficult to imagine what it's like to not have more than a few coins to get by. It's the kind of lesson that makes it impossible for me to not stop and pick up a stray penny off the ground. It's why I work hard and value hard work.
- The way he loves and appreciates the simple things in life. My dad's a successful man, but give him a decaf Dunkin' Donuts coffee with extra cream and sugar, a powdered sugar donut, and the newspaper, and he'll be happy. At the office he wears striking suits and ties, but at home he's in an old Jimmy Buffett 1997 concert tee. He's worn the same type of brown Topsiders since I can remember slipping them on as a kid and walking as if I had scuba flippers on. It's the way he'll always stop to watch The Godfather, Goodfellas, The Deer Hunter, or The Honeymooners TV series when it's on TV, even if it's the millionth time he's seen it. It's those habits that run deep and are easy to immediately name and recognize.
- The way he tells a story. My dad is a great storyteller. He can do a pitch-perfect impression of his uncle, who is essentially the real-life version of Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino, and he knows how to engage an audience. There are inside jokes in any family, and oftentimes they can be quotes from favorite TV shows or movies. But for our family, our inside jokes revolve around quoting each other and family members long since gone. I might not have been at a party in the 1970s, but I know all of the usual suspects and what family dramedy ensued. It's to the point where my husband, friends, and family from the other side can all recognize and quote back classic lines from our family history. I love the way my dad pauses at key moments for dramatic effect, the way his eyes blink rapidly when he does pause, and how stories and quotes that could seem to get old actually get funnier with each retelling.
- The way he set the bar for the man I would marry one day. My dad was the only man in my life for almost 20 years. Having never truly met either of my grandfathers before they died, my dad was the one and only true father/male figure in my life. And he treated me like a princess. But not just a princess who would come to expect to be swept away and taken care of forever by a man. One that would understand the importance of being respected and loved, along with being cared for. The fact that my mom is such a hard worker has also shown me that you can be taken care of while also being able to take care of yourself. I feel very fortunate to have met and married a guy who met the standards my dad illuminated in me my whole life. Even if my dad's not the only man in my life now, he'll always be the first. And I'll never forget that.
There's plenty more that can be said, many stones left unturned, but these are what came from my heart and the reasons I hold closest.
So Happy Father's Day to my dad, Tim Spiro, and to all of the men out there who have a part in shaping us as we grow and learn to be the best we can be, and expect even more.