Growing up with my father, I felt like the daughter of a mafia leader. He was born and raised in a horrible Long Island ghetto with 4 siblings. His father was a deadbeat and his mother taught high school English to put food on the table.
At 17, he was the first generation of his family to go to college. He moved out of his parent’s home and worked 4 jobs to make sure he never went back.
While in college, my father declared himself as an accounting major solely for the reason that he wanted to make money and have the dream life he always wanted. He spent his entire life working towards that goal, no matter the sacrifice. He missed out on birthdays, dance recitals, art shows, graduations, etc. Because of that, the father I remember as a child was one who was almost never around. When he was, he was very high strung, stressed out, over worked and not in the mood to come home to his four children and exhausted ungrateful wife.
I remember being afraid of him very early on. His voice scared me almost as much as his temper did. He would use a belt to whip us or violently spank us whenever he felt it was appropriate. His lighter form of punishment was to intimidate each of us with his big green eyes whenever we got out of line. The thought of his shrinking pupils of darkness staring into my angelic 4 year old self is one that will forever send chills up my spine.
Having come from a rough background himself, he wanted to make sure his kids knew how to handle themselves later on in life; although, it seems I was the only one ever paying attention. He taught me how to camp, fish, hike, ride dirt bikes, hunt, wrestle, drive a boat, and so much more. Anything the boys could do, he made sure his little girl could, too.
Children are extremely vigilant when it comes to judging people and environments. And by the age of 4, I knew he would never let anything happen to me (aside from the punishments). He carried this vibe about him like if you tried to fuck with him, he would not only fuck you up, he would fucking murder you. Without hesitation. That vibe intensified more when he was around me. I remember walking around with my head in my little world of flowers, barbies, pretty little piggies, and pink EVERYTHING.. to be pulled back to reality by the feeling of a lion taking long strides beside me. His protection was something I felt at my core. Always. No matter where we were, I knew my lion would keep me safe.
The two of us fed off each other’s energy. His protection lifted me up and gave me the confidence to walk tall, just as he did. To fear no other predator and to conquer all.
In return, my delicate nature and gently spoken words acted as his kryptonite, softening his tough personality.
I was a little princess, and he was my pet lion.
As I grew older, his approval and acceptance meant everything to me. I never wanted to let him down. I couldn’t bare it. Even now, I always consider his feelings and take his advice first.