I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

He Can Make It Happen

It has come to my attention that this past Sunday was Father's Day in the US. Given that Father's Day is not celebrated here until September, and that my Dad has enough undies and socks to last him, I thought I'd give him a gift of a blog post. So this one is for, and about, my Dad.

I have previously spoken about my Dad in this blog. If I were to be completely honest about my Dad, I probably wouldn't be able to be 100% complementary. He can be rude, annoying, irritating, stubborn, demanding and sometimes downright mean. He isn't the guy you go to for tea and sympathy (unless you make your own tea, and unless you want a healthy dose of "stop complaining and do something about it" sympathy). He isn't exactly, shall we say, non-judgmental or accepting of other people's cultures, faiths, and life choices. He doesn't debate anything, as it's all his way or no way. He isn't the guy who will compliment you, and he definetly won't do it on the day when you really need it. He often is unsympathetic to other's problems, has the attention span of a flea, and sometimes fails to appreciate others and what they do for him. He's not exactly Citizen of the Year.

However. My Dad is a man who makes things happen.

There are many, many things which I admire my Dad for. Personality traits which he has that I don't have, but I sometimes wish I did. My Dad is a risk-taker. He'll buy random dirt plots of land in far-away countries and make them into castles, and earn a small fortune. He'll try the same scheme somewhere else and fail spectacularly, but that won't stop him from trying again. He is, in some respects, totally fearless. He's of the "if you don't try you don't succeed" generation, and as such he takes the risks, and reaps the rewards. However, he's smart enough to admit when he gets it wrong, and he uses those lessons to get it right the next time. He is stubborn, to a fault. That stubbornness is his best weapon, as it means he never, ever takes 'no' for an answer. He's believes in himself and his plans SO much, that nobody, nothing, and a "no" answer don't get in his way. How many people do you know that have so much confidence? In his vocabulary there is no "can't", there is only "didn't try hard enough." So many times in my childhood I experienced my Dad making the impossible, totally possible. He and my Mom moved to the US with a small child (my sister), nearly no money, and good but basic English skills. It didn't take long before he'd passed the California bar, taken on a Masters' degree, opened his own practice, bought a house, taken on more qualifications (in real estate)...and eventually made and lost several fortunes. It hasn't been easy. It hasn't been simple. It hasn't been fun, especially when the fortunes got lost. It has, however, been a lesson for me in what tenacity and spirit can do for a person. My Dad is a man who makes things happen.

My Dad likes the rest of us to think he isn't emotional or sentimental. Unfortunately for him, that facade fell apart pretty quickly when I chose to move overseas. One of the best things to come out of it is that my Dad calls me, just to chat or re-tell the same jokes he's been telling for years. He doesn't do it often, but when he does I always hang up with a smile on my face, laughing from the punch line I already know. He misses me - but won't tell me he does - and he expresses that missing me by nudging my Mom to call me more often. He's funny in that way - you think he's all tough, but then when you least expect it, he comes through for you. My Dad is a man who makes things happen.

When DH and I found out we would need fertility help, my Dad randomly called me one day and said, "Okay, you've been married 2 years. I *know* something isn't right there. What's going on with grandkids?" Needless to say I burst into tears, as I had been keeping it all a secret until then. He listened, and then said, "So Michelley Zisi, what are we going to do about this?" and then volunteered money, connections, whatever we needed to get through this. In the end we didn't take anything from him, other than a phone call once in a while to check in on us. My Dad is fiercely loyal - his stubbornness to get his own things achieved is no more or no less when it comes to his kids and grandkids. I know without doubt that if I needed help achieving something big - help of any sort - he would be the one I'd call. My Dad is a man who makes things happen.

There are a lot of things which connect my Dad to me in funny ways. Firstly, I look a lot like him. More than once (this is really true!) I've been stopped by people in LA, asking if I am his daughter. He gave me the "zee" in "emzeegee" and that has followed me around my whole life - in another post I'll explain it but suffice to say it was another example of my Dad getting what he wanted. We share a love of really, really bad jokes - and the ones I tell, he already knew, while the one's he tells, I've heard hundreds of times before. I admire his intellect. He's not cultured (he sleeps through plays, is bored by concerts, can't stand museums, etc) but geez, he's smart. LIFE smart. And this intelligence is yet another reason why Dad is a man who makes things happen.

My Dad taught me to make things happen, too. I'm also stubborn - and tenacious, and all the qualities which he has (except potentially I'm a bit nicer about it.) He's taught me to be a DO-er, not just a talker. I could go on and on about him, and what I've learned from him. At the end of the day I adore him and am frustrated by him in equal measures. Like the job thing. I adore the fact that he believes in me and my abilities, but I'm frustrated by the fact that he can't believe that pastry cheffing is what I WANT to do. That adoration and frustration are exactly what made him a good Dad in the first place - he's always going to be in your corner, but you might not like what he has to say about the corner in the first place! He's always been (sometimes unreasonably) demanding of me, but paid me back with love and affection and funny crinkly blue eyes which laugh - sometimes the laughing is at me, sometimes the laughing is with me. Either way, he's my Dad, and he loves me (even though his love doesn't count, because has to.)

When I was about 9 or so, I got really upset about something - I can't remember what now. My Dad's only response was to say, "It doesn't matter, Michelley, because *I* love you." To which I replied in a very pre-teen fashion, "Yeah, but your love doesn't count. You HAVE TO love me." To this day, when my Dad says, "Love you, kid" he then follows with "But I know it doesn't count."

He - and I - are wrong. His love counts for a whole hell of a lot.

Thanks, Dad. Happy Father's Day.

Editor's Note: My Dad read this, and according to Mom he claims none of it is true, except for the last part. *sigh*


Patricia Scarpin said...

Wow, this is a beautiful post. I have tears in my eyes, M. - my mom died when I was 7 so I'm pretty connected with my dad. And you described some of my feelings for him exactly. Sometimes I hated him (as much as one can actually hate a father), and at the same second I loved him more then anything in the whole world.
We used to have huge fights because I am as stubborn as he is.

Really beautiful - a wonderful present.

emzeegee & the hungry three said...

Thanks Patricia! I was initially concerned that it was too negative, but upon re-reading (and re-reading, and re-reading), I've decided that it's an accurate portrayal of who he is, and the relationship we have. I hope my Dad enjoys it as much as you have.