(finding parenthood painfully funny)
As far back as I can remember, my father has been begging me to write his eulogy. Not because he is actively dying. That would make too much sense. No, he wants to know what I would say and is worried about missing the show. Even though he claims to be a religious man who thinks there are actual pearly gates above and fiery swamps below, he still doesn’t want to risk the chance there won’t be Dolby 5.1 surround sound in in his casket. (Maybe he isn’t as much as of a believer as he thinks he is …) So for my father, on this Father’s Day, I will give him front-row seats to his own funeral. My greatest gift to him thus far. Enjoy, Dad …
I would like to thank all six of you for coming today. I’m sure the light drizzle contributed to this incredibly low attendance. But don’t be offended, Dad; like you’ve always said, “Walk it off.” (Whether it was me being rejected by the college cheerleading squad after finishing a year as their team captain, or accidentally being lit on fire and losing half my head of hair and eyelashes the day before the eighth-grade dance, my dad would say, like a mantra, “Walk it off.”)
As truly infuriating as that saying always was, I get it now. Your lack of sympathy was ultimately my greatest lesson. Ever. Let me explain …
I know you loved me, Dad. More than anything (including more than my two younger brothers). That was the one thing you always made sure I knew. I mean, yes, you weren’t able to buy us gifts on Christmas, or fancy clothes—or regular clothes for that matter—or pay for doctor visits, or feed us anything other than McDonalds, but you were the dad who showed up. You didn’t miss any of my performances from kindergarten till today; you were an hour early to every show, sitting in the front row smiling ear to ear. Every night at bedtime you’d cuddle up next to me and take me on journeys across hot-fudge rivers and giant rooms full of Jell-O, so I could slide down a rainbow into my pot of golden dreams. Always pulling me closer for a tight hug that would last way beyond a four-Mississippi count.
“I know you loved me, Dad. More than anything (including more than my two younger brothers). That was the one thing you always made sure I knew.”
Sure, in junior high you commented way too much on my boobs, or the lack thereof. But you made up for all the inappropriate boob comments when you became my pot dealer in high school. Even though you seemed to only have skunk from Mexico, it certainly was convenient that you’d smoke all my friends out in your garage.
Thank you for driving me up to college. Sharing joints along the 5. And telling me you were a gigolo after Mom left you so you could make some needed cash. Thank you for unpacking all of my clothes. And hanging my posters on my dorm-room wall. And telling me I was going to do great in this world. Greater than you ever did, because I was special. And college would help make me smarter than you.
I know how insecure you were about being a “failure” when it came to your career as an artist. I know that you were embarrassed that you didn’t have the career that you had hoped for. I know you compared yourself to other dads who went to college, made a ton of money, and provided for their children financially. I know that hurt you. Deeply. I want to let you know—it’s okay. Not everything works out the way we want it to. Not everyone’s dreams come true. No matter how hard you work or how talented you are. And in the end, the victory isn’t in the pot of gold; it’s the time you spent together on the journey, splashing in the fudge river and bouncing in the rooms of Jell-O. And we did all of it together. And we laughed. Through the hard times, and the high times.
So now, here we are. I’m sure you’ve arrived one hour early to your own funeral and are in the front row right now, watching me, smiling ear to ear. And you know what, I’m not going to cry about your passing. I’m going to be okay. I’m going to continue to walk in your footsteps and follow my own dreams of being an artist, and give myself permission to fail. I will parent my own children like you did with me (except with less boob talk). I will be at all of their shows (and arrive early), I will tell them bedtime stories, I will celebrate their bodies in junior high, I will happily take them to college (I’m counting down the days), and I will let someone else smoke them out (sorry to break the tradition). And when they fail, I will hug them too long, even if they are 38 years old, and tell them, “Walk it off.” Because truly good parenting is showing up, loving them, and simply teaching them to move on, telling them it’s going to be okay, and to just enjoy the journey.
I love you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day.
Your Favorite Child
For more information on Nicole Blaine or to see her perform stand-up: www.NicoleBlaine.com