There’s a fine line between a father and dad. A father is a biological term who is responsible for half of your DNA. They’re the reason you’re walking the planet and they choose whether or not to be in your life. A dad is the most important man in a child’s life. They’re the ones who push you, who care for you, who cheer you on, who make you laugh, who tell you it’s going to be okay. They never make their child question their love and couldn’t imagine a life without you. I was blessed with a dad who held my hands in the ocean so that I could jump over the waves. A dad who cried when he saw me on the day of my first communion because he knew the next time he saw me in a white dress in a church would be my wedding day. A dad who I felt safe with and who I talked to. I have a dad who pushes me, loves me, reasons with me and is there for me… even on the 93rd day without him.
Today, October 4th, marks the fifteenth month since he last celebrated one of his favorite holidays (the fourth of July) and marks the first month since Pa’s first birthday without him. Five days ago marked three months since he said he loved me. Four days ago marked the third month since he moved into hospice, the place we knew he was going to die. Three days ago marked three months since we saw him alive. Two days ago marked the third month without him. One day ago was national boyfriend day where I celebrated (from a distance and with a single text message before we both blew it off) someone who will never get to meet John Wengler.
After a few successful dates most girl’s first worry is “He has to meet Dad,” “What is Dad going to think of him?,” “When does Dad get to meet him?”. You’ve waited all this time for this boy to ask you on a date, he passed the test that Dad had always says he had to: open the door, pay for your meal and don’t be boring. Then you have a second date to make sure that wasn’t just the first date special- he passes again. So then it’s the time to introduce him to the family- the crazy bunch of people who make you who you are and who your boyfriend potentially could have to deal with for the rest of his life- good luck.
(And the boy in question may actually say “I want to meet your family” to which you respond “are you absolutely sure about that?”. )
So, to you: You’ve passed the tests that involve only me. Congrats. There have been a bunch of dates to a bunch of different places including the middle of trees on hiking trails to the middle of the city to eat ice cream outside in 56 degree weather because it’s my favorite. They all included solid conversations consisting of many goofs on each other and non- awkward silences and not once have I ever actually wanted them to end. I need a break from many and most people but my exhaustiveness level when I’m with you stays low- which is pretty good and interesting for an introvert. But now there’s the next test…
There’s an army of people that want to meet you. My mom- who is wonderful, strong, kind, a “cool mom” and will absolutely give me her honest opinion of you no matter what. My siblings who are gorgeous, hilarious, and my two favorite people and who I’ll know like you based on if they start joking with you or talking to you like they talk to me. My step- dad who has guns (yes that’s plural) in the house and will probably mention that. @Cassie.the.dog_ who takes roast beef as bribes. As well as a few others who knew the most important man in my life longer than I did- people from The Fordham Crew, The Happy Hour Crew, and his high school squad have already let Jenny G. know that they want to meet you.
Who you don’t get to meet? The, as mentioned above, most important man in my life. The person who gave me my last name, who made sure I was able to be who I am, who offered ice cream after every other boy, who has constantly pushed me in school, who’s cheered me on, who told me he understood me, and the person who’s showed me how to make it through life by being nothing but happy.
You could see this as a weight being lifted off of your shoulders- bypassing the “I have to meet her Dad” test. Movies make this look scarier than it probably is- not that I know but I’ve never actually heard of a dad staring down his daughter’s date during dinner or strategically placing his guns in the front hallway so they’re the first thing the date notices when they walk through the front door. But maybe not getting to meet him will actually bother you- which I think it should.
And you should know that this’ll bother me. I know that you’ll be meeting everyone but him. You won’t understand the grieving or the sadness because you won’t understand who I lost. Maybe I won’t reach acceptance for five years, but when I do I could hit a wall. Maybe I’ll be in the angry stage for 6 weeks, six months or two years. But for some reason you’re here and for some reason your being here says that you’re ready for me to go through it, which I think is pretty cool of a person- to know what they’re getting into and decide to go through it all with you.
I know he’ll know you and will probably haunt you just for fun. And I can promise you that you’ll know him. He’ll be mentioned, I’ll tell his stories and the ones I have about him. But you won’t know his voice, how he stood, how he smiled, how he dressed, or what it was like to be in the same room as him. You’ll know him through memories- mine and everyone else’s who knew him and meets you. You’ll know him as best as we can tell you about him, and you’re more than welcome to ask questions, which is encouraged.
It shouldn’t be “Dad gets to meet him”, it’s “He gets to meet Dad”. Your dad has been waiting for the days when you’d introduce him to your date- he’s set standards and has prepared you the best he could for something he has no control over (which he’ll probably beg to differ about). He’s been in your life since the very first day and won’t leave because “he’s found someone else”, “doesn’t feel the same way” or “is scared of commitment”. He loved you through the awkward phases and will continue to after every single guy you introduce to him. Your date/ boyfriend/ S.O. has the privilege of meeting your dad, not the other way around.