Meet Patrick, my father in law. We met five years ago, during Christmas of 2006. On of our first days together, he and my mother in law escorted me and Mr. Juvin to one of Reim’s famous champagne houses for a tour and tasting. Because he and Mr. Juvin do not drink champagne, I drank their three glass samples including my own making for a total of nine glasses.
After dinner that evening, Patrick and I were the only people sitting at the table while everyone else was in the kitchen. He started humming a French song and asked me if I knew it to which I responded no. He explained that it was a famous French song, even used as a gay anthem in France, to which I responded, “Is that why you know it so well?”
Before I could realize what I said in my tipsy stupor, he studied my face, gave me a sly smile and calmly said, “The bubbles have gone to your head.”
From that moment on, Patrick became ‘Pat’ and he, in so many ways, became my father.
I never had a real father-daughter relationship with my own dad. Perhaps he was too immature to appreciate us and was subsequently emotionally, and often physically, unavailable.
It wasn’t until I observed my husband’s relationship with Pat that I realized how a father is supposed to behave. I flipped through Mr. Juvin’s baby books and saw countless photos of him and his dad playing together, videos of them playing tennis every summer, observed how Pat would travel long hours to meet us in the US and drive thousands of miles to help us move, waited hours outside of an IKEA with a rental truck without even muttering a complaint, playing cards with me on a quiet Christmas evening, and telling me stories of days past, and random facts about history and geography.
One memorable time, Pat got deep into protective dad-mode, pacing around the house, when my best friend and I wanted to go downtown alone, late one night. We came to the agreement that we’d stay in his dental office as long as he supplied us with rag mags and champagne. His face lit up with accomplishment as he poured champagne into our glasses, knowing he protected us from untold dangers.
Through his dedicated actions, his quiet support, his patience for my mistakes and foolery, understanding my personal growth and quirks in addition to his ever standing presence and readiness in the event that I fall and need him, he helped to heal the wounds of my failed relationship with my own dad.
I look to the future, planning the pregnancy and birth of my first child and I smile to know what kind of father he or she will have, a man as gentle and dedicated as their grandfather, my dad, too, a man named Pat.
He may never be a famous or absurdly rich man. He may leave the world relatively unknown. One this is certain, is that he’s had a great part in transforming who I am, how I see the world, and the future that I will have which sets in motion a whole different world. A better world.
So, happy Father’s Day, Pat. I know you’re lurking, always reading my posts, and supporting me. Thank you.