June 22, 2009

I am my father's daughter

I noticed my dad's eyes for the first time yesterday.

For Father's Day, I invited him to go to breakfast with me. Nothing fancy of course; just his regular haunt, Waffle House. (I have grown accustomed to hearing my friends say over the years, "hey, I saw your dad at Waffle House this morning." If I had a nickle...)

My dad is very much a creature of habit. For as long as I can remember, the following things have been constants in my dad's life: coffee, cigarettes, a somber smile, creativity, and silence. I have never known much about who my dad was and is. He's never offered much, and well, I've never really asked...or made the effort to simply listen. But over breakfast, as we shared a pot of what I am pretty sure is the love of my dad's life, I listened. He spoke.

I learned about his early business dealings; what a schmoozer Ricky Baker was! Taking businessmen out to lunch, talking shop, doing deals, buying in, getting his cut of the share, traveling, deals gone awry.

I heard about the hilarious this-could-only-happen-to-Ricky-Baker type scenarios. These stories got my dad (and me) cackling. It was so good to see him laugh.

I heard about his regrets. Hearing him voice his regrets was difficult. I have never thought about his regrets from his side; only the effect they have had on me.

He was transparent with me for the second time in my life. (The only other time was at my college graduation when he gave me a very prolonged, firm hug and whispered in my ear, "I am so proud of you, Peyton." I will remember that forever, I am sure.)

The provisions that my dad has offered his family, me in particular, have not been great. I have been paying my way for quite some time; looking to my older brother for advice and support; finding spiritual guidance in church leaders. God has always provided a multitude of provision in the areas my dad was lacking. But I am beginning to see what my dad has provided for me: bits and pieces of himself.

So much of him is in me: creativity, a little (ok, a lot of) rebellion, sometimes finding it hard to move past regret, his coloring (thank goodness!), his nose...and his eyes.

I noticed my dad's eyes for the first time, sitting across from him at breakfast. They are brown, yes, just like mine. But there is a small sliver of gray-blue that encircles the brown. Something I have never, ever noticed before. I never looked; never paid attention long enough to discover a detail like that.

As I was kissing Mark goodbye last night, after having told him about breakfast with my dad and noticing his eyes, Mark looked me straight in the eyes and said, "Peyton, you have that thin grayish blue circle too!"

I am my father's daughter.

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