Exploring the Facets of Love
January 26, 2018
My dad wasn’t always my dad. There was a time when he was just my parent: A stoic figure, a homework helper, but not quite a source of love. He never needed to be. My mom provided all the love I needed. She was more than just a parent – she was a friend, a confidant, and most importantly, she loved me unconditionally.
It’s not as if my father wasn’t in the picture, he was an ever present figure in my life, but we didn’t share the same kind of relationship that my mother and I had. He was constantly working, providing for my family, but lacked a strong personal involvement in my life. He was a parent.
However, when my mom passed away from cancer, my father and I faced the unprecedented trials and tribulations that come along with the tragedy of losing a loved one. My dad, who I had been emotionally distant towards, slowly began taking steps to reinvent our relationship.
These efforts first became apparent to me on the final days leading up to her death.
An image that stands clear in my memory is the final day. I sat alone in the waiting room, too anxious to move, paralyzed by the idea that if I went in, I might see her take her last breaths. As I sat with my eyes in my hands, an unfamiliar warmth surrounded me with a hug. It was my dad. For a moment I wasn’t in the hospital surrounded by these people, it was just me and my dad. We sat for a while, and then he offered to take me home. On our drive, I had one of the first intimate conversations with him that I can remember. We talked about when he met my mom, how they fell in love, and what he loved about her.
For a short time I had escaped from the hardship consuming my life. I was immersed in the story of them meeting during their twenties in San Francisco and falling in love, and I could feel my mom’s bold and lively charisma that he fell in love with. This was the root of our revitalized relationship, the foundation of a new love.
We gradually became closer in the years after her death. Our differences settled out and we grew to understand each other. The constant fights subsided, and the misunderstandings diminished. He became my go-to, the person I trusted most in the world. Quiet, small-talk dinners slowly shifted into opportunities for us to connect and catch up. He’d give me advice on every topic that concerned me, even if they weren’t ones that he could directly relate to. In middle school, he was constantly updated on the ever-changing status of my crushes. In high school, he shared my stress over the social challenges and academic hurdles every teenage girl awkwardly faces. And now, he subdues my interminable anxieties about college and the future.
I don’t think any singular moment can define the growth of our relationship. It was a process full of trial and error as he endeavored to raise a teenager on his own. But with persistence and care, my dad took on the dualities that a single parent must face–to be the good cop and the bad cop, to be motherly and fatherly, a parent and a friend.
Single parenthood is often brought about unexpectedly. This is a challenge that many families face, and it is up to the individual to decide how to cope with the task of fostering a child on their own. The recipe for a single parent’s love cannot be taught or handed down. It can only be crafted through experience, failure, and effort. The mystery ingredient is the driving force behind the relationship. The innate motivation to care for your child and love them wholeheartedly. It’s unmeasurable, and defies any analytical reasoning.
My dad is more than just a parent. He’s a stoic figure, a homework helper, a friend, a confidant, and most importantly, he loves me unconditionally.