Saturday, June 15, 2013

I Am My Father’s Daughter

My dad was a hippie before being a hippie was cool.  My grandmother will still sigh when she tells you about how he grew his hair out and took a date to the prom that wore combat boots with her prom dress.  Then when hippie became mainstream, he bought cowboy boots, started listening to country and became a cowboy instead. He will tell you that he was a psychedelic cowboy.

My dad has never been one for convention.  I never realized until recently that this was one the great lessons he taught me.  There are rules and then there are rules that should be broken.

I didn’t always appreciate this.  When I was 5 years old we moved from Germany to Arkansas.  We moved away from the U.S just before my 2nd birthday so I knew very little about the States.  I spoke English with an accent and was just learning to properly use “fixin’ to” in a sentence.  I was trying to fit in and make friends.  Then one day I found my dad mowing the lawn wearing a navy blue t-shirt, Hawaiian shorts, and cowboy boots.  I didn’t know a lot about American culture, but I knew enough to know that your dad mowing the lawn in Hawaiian shorts and cowboy boots wasn’t the best way to find friends.

But dad has never bent for any fashion rules.  Ironically, he served in the military for over 20 years, the epitome of conformity.  But as soon as he retired, he made sure he presented to the world who he really was.  And that involved walking around on base wearing his fatigues with a “Shit Happens” t-shirt.  Or there was the time he walked into the base clinic wearing a flight suit with a “Participant-Southeast Asia War Games” badge complete with a large peace symbol in the center.  He’s always had streak of ‘let’s stir the pot and see what happens.’

What happened was that he was confronted by a young tech sergeant.
“Sir, do you realize that that is not within regulation?”
“Yep.”
“Don’t you think you should be wearing your uniform within regulation?”
“Nope. I can wear whatever I want.”
“What makes you so special?”
And with a grin he answered, “I’m retired” and walked off.

Now here I am today, truly my father’s daughter.  I am a liberal activist living in Oklahoma.  I am trained in healthcare but trying my hand at writing.  I don’t fit into any neat box of who I am or who I should be and I’ve never been happier.  Because boxes are confining.  Life is too short for boxes.  Life is boring with boxes.  My father taught me that.

My father will shake his head when he wonders how he raised a hippie daughter, but really Dad…you only have yourself to blame.



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