Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ten Years Later, There's Still So Much I Want to Emulate

Yesterday was my dad's birthday and in honor of that, I thought I'd share an essay I wrote about him when I was fifteen years old. It's really special to me and it's also fun to see how my writing style has changed and how it has stayed the same over the past ten years.

Like Father, Like Daughter
Everyone says I look just like my dad. I feel really good when they say that. My dad, Robert E. Perry, Jr. will be fifty-three in two months, but you'd never know it just from looking at him. He has dark hair, blue eyes, and is about 5'8''. He hasn't changed at all since I was born, fifteen years ago, and not much since he married my mom, thirty years ago.

When I was a baby, my father worried about the most absurd things. He was afraid to take me outside because he thought a limb might fall out of a tree when I was directly under it. He also strictly forbade turning on ceiling fans, because one of the blades might come off and slice off my head. Although it began to embarrass me as I got older, I am grateful to my father for his fanatical safety regime. I feel lucky that I have someone that cares so much about me.

As I got older, I planned to move away. In the fourth grade, I packed a lunch and a collection of my most prized possessions, including my boom box and about four backpacks. To the sensible bystander, it would have been more than obvious that I could barely make it down the driveway before collapsing from exhaustion and severe back pain. However, my fatter neglected to realize this and told me to get in the car. We were going for a ride. After a significant amount of arguing, I reluctantly got in the car. As well pulled out of the driveway, I noticed him turning off the air conditioning. It had to have been at least one hundred degrees that day and I was already intensely angry, but I didn't open my mouth, I just stared out the window. We had long since left middle-class suburbia and were on our way to downtown Jackson. By this time I was beyond confused.

Finally, my dad began to explain, "Denley, if you had run away, you wouldn't have lasted this long. I feel sure you'd have been kidnapped by this time. If that had really happened, you'd have been in the trunk, but this will do." I glanced at the air conditioner on off. I could not believe he was doing this to me. He began pointing out crack houses and windows that had bullet holes in them. Why was he torturing me this way? I wondered.
It wasn't until much later that I realized that he had been so scared I would actually run away. Of course I could never do that; I could never leave him. He had come all the way home from work, given up his lunch break, and endured hell, just so I could learn a simple lesson.

Then, in seventh grade, I told my best friend, "A girl's dad is the only guy she can trust." He laughed at me. Since then many people have let me down, but not my dad. He's held me up and given me strength. When my boyfriend of a year broke up with me, he told me stories about when he'd felt the same way. He treated me like a real person, and he didn't act like my pain was insignificant or childish. He didn't rush me to move on and he told me he understood. I never had to cover up my feelings with him.

When people tell me that my looks resemble my father's I feel proud, but I hope someday they will tell me my actions resemble his as well. All day long my dad deals with people that work for him and even though he is much smarter than many of them, he never looses patience with them. He doesn't loose patience with me or my sister when we act stupid, either. Another important thing that my dad has taught me is not to judge people and to be friends with EVERYONE. My dad is also brilliant. He worked in Huntsville at the Space Center and is now a vital part of his company, Mississippi Valley Gas. When my dad gets angry, he doesn't yell, he discusses. For all these reasons, and many more, my dad is respected and admired by all who know him. He is adored by his friends, family and colleagues. I hope that someday I can reach such peaks.

Happy birthday to a wonderful Daddy and grandfather!


The Niemeyer Nest said...

How sweet! I am going to have Carl read that because I am a strong believer in the importance of the daddy/daughter relationship. Your Dad sounds like a really amazing guy!

Amy said...

You were a great writer at 15 (and still are!)
So sweet....I'm sure your dad will cherish this always. i feel the same way about my dad and I hope one day Libbi feels the same about Jeffrey. I've always heard that your relationship with your earthly father can dictate parts of your relationship with your heavenly father. i totally agree....I think because i have such a great relationship with my dad and he is so amazing that it is that much easier for me to see God as loving and helps me to have a better understanding of my relationship with Him.