27: Words of Wisdom

27: Words of Wisdom

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Dad

Words of Wisdom

A father is always making his baby into a little woman.
And when she is a woman he turns her back again.

~Enid Bagnold

My heart was broken for the very first time when I was four years old. The neighborhood boy I adored told me that he didn’t want to be my friend anymore and that was that — the first scar on my heart on the road to everlasting love. My dad fixed it with an ice cream cone from Dairy Queen. He always knew what to do, my dad.

I managed to make it to the age of fourteen before another scar was added. My cherished boyfriend of two weeks dumped me for my friend. My dad fixed it with a funny tale about how weird my ex-boyfriend’s ears were. He always knew what to do, my dad.

I slugged it out through my teen years, avoiding the big heartbreak that can strike during this treacherous time. My father had made me believe I could do anything and that I was smart, funny, and pretty, and I didn’t need a boy’s arm around my shoulder to know that. He taught me to like everyone, but love only a chosen few.

He always knew what to do, my dad.

When I turned twenty-one, I met THE ONE. The one who flipped my heart, touched my soul and made every day a day worth singing about. We dated for two years, got engaged and started to plan the wedding. My dreams were coming true.

We picked the date, starting looking into halls, limos, catering, the works. It seemed like all we had to do now was finalize the date, send out the invitations and just like that we’d be married and living happily ever after.

Until the day he called me at work, from my cell phone, while driving my car, to tell me he was in love with someone else.

I stood there, transfixed, mouth gaping, and unsure of what to say. I managed to get him to pick me up, for no other reason than to return my car to me. We argued, fought, I cried and he was bitter about having to talk to me at all. He left me alone, crying in the parking lot. He was about to start his new life with the other woman who, according to him, he had loved forever.

I went through the usual stages of grief. I cried. I cried some more. My girlfriends rallied around me, trying to cheer me up, make me laugh, whatever was needed to get me through the first horrible weeks of the break-up and then returning the ring and telling my family there would not be a wedding this year.

I moved back home for two weeks to get my head together and to allow my friends to remove all traces of him from my apartment. One night as I was sitting on the back porch, my father came outside with a bowl of ice cream. I smiled through my tears.

“Dad, I’m not four anymore.”

To which my father replied, “No kidding, you’re old enough to get your own ice cream now.” He just sat with me, eating his ice cream. We stared at the stars in silence. When he began to speak, he just repeated the same mantra over and over about how special I was, how I would recover and move on and although I would always remember the hurt, he told me not to let it cloud my judgment and make the same mistake again. He warned me not to jump into anything right away, to allow the hurt to heal and remember that I didn’t do anything wrong and time really does heal all wounds. He went on and on until he finished his bowl and once again we sat in silence and listened to the sounds of the evening.

After a while, he asked me, “Did anything I say help?”

I smiled sadly and answered honestly. “Not really, Dad. At least not today.”

He put down his dish and looked me in the eye, asking sincerely, “Do you want me to go and beat the crap out of him?”

The laughter began deep in my belly and erupted from my mouth. For five very joyous minutes, I could not stop laughing. My tears of pain turned to tears of laughter as I thought about my father getting into the car, tracking down my ex, and slugging out a twenty-five-year-old man. Truth was, because he had the rage of a father behind him, he had a shot!

After the laughter slowed down to a giggle, I told my dad, “No thanks Dad, but I appreciate the offer.” He smiled at me and ended the conversation with, “Well, it’s never really off the table, just so you know.”

I smiled as he went back inside and for the first time, I knew I would be okay.

He always knew what to do, my dad.

~Tracy Cavlovic

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