Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

My father's name is not on my birth certificate.  I've known this ever since it became my responsibility to hang onto my various identification documents and keep them safe.  I was recently reminded of this fact when applying for my first passport, since you have to submit your birth certificate as proof that you were born in the United States.

I asked my mother about it when I first saw it.  I don't remember the answer.  I remember it having something to do with my being born out of wedlock.  But it doesn't matter.  The reason I don't remember my mother's answer is because there has never been any room for a single shred of doubt that the man I know of as my father is, in fact, my father.

I have my father's temper.  Because of this, from the time I was a small child, I was one of the only people in the entire world that could, and would, stand up to him.  We're both extraordinarily stubborn when we think we're right.  When I was younger, I was probably wrong much more often.  But I would argue anyway.  As I grew, being right began to occur with more frequency.  Also as I grew, I learned what things to say that would more effectively prove my rightness...even if I ended up being wrong anyway.  Eventually our fights were more like loud, emotional debates.

These days, the most praise I get in law school is for my argumentation skills.  Legal argumentation is usually different from fighting with someone.  It's calmer and more rational.  But because I couldn't win with my dad if I couldn't prove I was right, and I couldn't be right if my argument was a logical failure, without even knowing it I prepared myself for the practice of law by simply arguing with my dad.

Another thing I got from my father is his financial sense.  These days, the only reason I have to call and ask for money is if something unexpected happens.  I would like to avoid doing even that, but unfortunately law school leaves me with a rather small budget so I can't maintain an emergency cushion.  But, emergencies aside, normal expenses are always comfortably within my budget.

The other aspect of my financial sense that I clearly share with him is the desire to have enough money to be happy and comfortable, with high-quality things.  We both know that it actually saves money in the end when you spend more initially -- it is like this with electronics, clothes, cars, anything.  When your stuff lasts forever, it easily makes up for the initial dollar figure.  We're both very unlike his father in this respect.  His father has the financial sense too, but all he does is stow the money away and sit on it.  My father and I do not see the sense in this.  We don't think it adds up to be sitting on thousands upon thousands of dollars and still buying cheap, shitty food at Winco.  I don't even buy cheap, shitty food, and I'm certainly not sitting on thousands upon thousands of dollars.

These are not the only reasons it is clear that I am my father's daughter.  I thankfully got his metabolism, his eyesight, his intelligence (got that from both sides, actually), his logic, and his mathematical abilities.  I'm sometimes thankful I got his OCD (at least things are organized!).  I'm often less than thankful that I got his baby-fine hair (my niece had thicker hair than I did when she was about 7).  I walk like him.  I lose patience like he does.  I drive like him.  We have the same silly (and sometimes immature) sense of humor.  I'm kindly honest, like him (except when mad, then I'm just blatantly honest...also like him).  I work hard and stay busy, like him, but when I need to relax I need to be alone, like him.  When I focus on something, the rest of the world does not exist, like him.

My birth certificate is just a piece of paper.  I don't need it to tell me what I know is true.

I love you, Dude.
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ginger said...

this is a beautiful post and i thoroughly enjoyed reading it. you obviously have a close relationship with your father. it's always refreshing to see people who appreciate their parents on this level. there are too many people so busy trying to not become their parents that this level of appreciation often gets missed.

Jenn said...

Oh Bridgete this is such a wonderful tribute to your dad! and I totally second everything Ginger said (well put girl, the owning it part is so true!) You are awesome and therefore your dad must be pretty awesome too :-)

I can't help but quote Clueless: "He gets $500 an hour to fight with people. But he fights with me for free cuz I'm his daughter."


What a sweet post! I hope your dad has read it and enjoyed it, too. :)