It’s not unusual for a girl to proclaim that she has the best dad in the whole wide world, especially on Father’s Day. All hyperboles aside though, you’ll have to trust my objectivity when I say that I absolutely do.
My dad and I, we go way back. When I rifle through the collection of memories we share, it’s hard to find any that don’t involve laughter, wonder, and well…food, but we’ll get to that a bit later.
Thanks to my dad, I had the most colorful upbringing imaginable. I grew up on a farm in rural Pennsylvania, surrounded by an assortment of animals that became my first playmates. Our farmhouse seemed to have a revolving door that invited all kinds of wondrous characters into our lives, bearing names such as Trashy Dave, Fuzzy, and Nextdoory-Lori (who lived nextdoor, in case that wasn’t clear). My dad’s band provided the soundtrack for my childhood, and I feel fortunate to have fallen asleep each night to the live music of what in my mind was the best band ever.
Despite working full time and playing in a band for most of his adult life, my dad never ceased to make me feel like his first priority. We were so connected that his bandmates provided me with a spiky rockstar wig and named one of their best songs after me, which could only mean that I was part of the band as well. When “our” band wasn’t practicing, we would take nature walks, go to hot air balloon festivals, and use our homemade bubble maker to blow bubbles so large they would engulf our bodies with soapy donuts. He would take me on scientific digs, where we would collect worms to put in our insect farm, which was actually an empty Entenmann’s cake box. In the summertime, we would go on camping trips and write really sophisticated songs about s’mores. He’d strum on his guitar and act like I was a lyrical genius, and I’d relish all the attention he gave me. We’d play board games until our lantern died and then we would stare at the sky for hours, counting shooting stars and marveling at how expansive the universe is. I’ll never forget the time when I was about 6 and my dad gave me an abandoned car to play in. My friends and I converted it into our own private clubhouse, hiding all of our toys and snacks in its different compartments. When kids at school bragged about their swingsets and mini playhouses, I’d cavalierly state that I had my own car. A real one. My dad made it pretty easy for me to one-up just about everyone else.
From the outside, it may have appeared that he was spoiling me. I’ll agree that Marty Light wasn’t much of a disciplinarian, but I soon learned that all I needed to know about values, I could acquire just by observing him. While it sometimes embarrassed me when he sparked up conversations with random people on the street, or the woman checking us out at the grocery store, his openness and generosity towards others taught me that everyone is equally deserving of kind treatment. He is one of the only people I know who is incapable of lying, even if I really want him to, even when it makes sense circumstantially. For a long time, this frustrated me because like any kid, I sometimes needed (read: really wanted) my parents to cover for me. Now I realize though that his virtue of never uttering a lie outweighed the short-lived protection he could have offered me with a white lie. Long before the recession made voluntary simplicity a fad, my dad embraced the simple life. Even if he were to win the lottery and could travel anywhere in the world, I’m convinced his preferred vacation would be camping on a beautiful mountain somewhere, probably not too far away from home. He has never been materialistic or superficial, and through his actions, he has taught me that quality time spent fostering relationships with people matters way more than anything money can buy. I could go on and on about all of the lessons he has taught me, but suffice it to say that my dad has superbly prepared me for both adulthood and the world. I honestly don’t know where I would be without him.
I’m not a little girl anymore, and our relationship has naturally changed over the years. Fortunately, we are still as close as ever. It has been a while since we have lived on the same continent, but we continually make an effort to find ways to enjoy our shared passions, whether that means having him visit me in Peru to eat our way through the country (where he couldn’t escape eating guinea pig!)…
…or flying across the world to watch the World Series together…
…or cooking the same meal at the same time, and then Skyping to pretend we are having dinner together. Sometimes when I am really homesick, I have my friends hold up a Marty mask (weird? Yeah, totally.) so I can pretend I am dining with my dad. That’s how much I miss him sometimes, and that’s how much we both enjoy the act of eating together.
I guess it’s pretty obvious that I’m a huge daddy’s girl, and that part of my love of food comes from my relationship with my dad. Since the two of us have always enjoyed snacking, cooking, and experiencing new foods together, and since he was one of my main supporters when I wanted to start this blog, I thought it would be nice to devote this week to him. Over the next seven days, I will post some of my dad’s recipes that I love the most. Stay tuned for that.
Dad, I love you dearly and wish we were together today. Thanks for who you are and all you do for me. Enjoy your day!