Gary Chapman gave us The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to a Love that Lasts. My father, Frank Tolle, gave me the support and encouragement to become the person I am. Today, I thank my father for being my daddy through the lens of these 5 love languages.
Words of Affirmation
I have always felt a little sorry for my friends, even film or TV characters, who have claimed not to hear “I love you” from their parents. My dad says it all the time. In fact, he closes his text messages with “LD,” which is of course short for “Love, Daddy.” Super cute, yes?
As Words of Affirmation indicate my love language (love interests and current friends should take note of this, please), I am quite grateful that my father has no trouble expressing his affection for his daughter. Imagine all of the hours and the cost of therapy I have avoided because my father did right by me in this one area.
I know how to tie chicken necks to a crab trap and wait patiently for dinner to crawl to me. I know how to change a tire and change the oil in my car. I know how to plan the perfect Disney World vacation, and I know how to Spackle anything. I know how to do my taxes and drive in the harshest, speediest, Atlanta traffic.
And I know how to fly a Gulfstream G450. Not really, but I have flown with him in the Sim a few times. Sharing a quiet moment on the back porch with my dad and beer (and sometimes gossip) is one of my favorite activities.
The gifts my father has given me throughout my lifetime are too numerous for this post. Really, the gifts are often supplements to the quality time and acts of service that have shaped my personal identity and supported my move toward independence. I was granted my beloved canopy bed when I still believed in Santa Claus, and last month I received the Pilates equipment that I have used more than I have read the magazines from his gift subscriptions (which says a great deal, as I read every last article). At age 14, I received a suede coat for Christmas, my very first upscale article of clothing, and when I was a tiny girl, I received a mallet with yellow and black tips right out of my daddy’s red, Craftsman tool chest.
Acts of Service
My father has researched, bought, and installed almost everything that has made me feel safe. From car care (that is, Volvo station wagon care, among other models) to home alarm systems, my dad works himself to a near fever pitch about my independence and self-reliance. My file safes, my paper shredder, my Independent Retirement Account (IRA) information, and even my USAA insurance policies came from him.
To show his delicate concern for his daughter, sometime while I was driving around at age 16 in a decently, socially acceptable Mazda 626 hatchback, my dad clipped a note to my visor. A Pennysaver car ad for a busted, non-descript, beater was glue-sticked to an index card with the handwritten admonition: “Drive safely, Colleen.” The whole card was even laminated. Classic. And effective.
My father gives hugs that mean business. He fixes the world’s ills with these hugs.
When I was in early elementary school, my little friend Gloria Parker endured her parents’ divorce. I do not remember the particulars of the split, but I do remember how I assumed my father would know how to help her. I vividly remember holding her hand, leading her to my father one afternoon. I tugged on the Velcro belt of his green, cotton flight suit and spoke with conviction in an earnest request. “Daddy, Gloria hasn’t seen her dad in a while. Would you give her a hug?”
Not surprisingly, he immediately hugged my little friend that day, as well as every time she came running into his arms when she visited the house. From my earliest memories to my last visit at Christmas, my daddy has consistently given the hugs that make me feel safe and very loved.
This Father’s Day, I thank my dad for all the love he has spoken to me, shared with me, and given time for. And above all, I thank him for loving my mother since they were teenagers. But that is another post.