How much do you love me, I asked.
More than anyone else, he answered.
I was satisfied with that answer. And even though you know that somebody loves you, it’s nice to hear it often. If I don’t hear it when I need to – I ask.
The game of ‘how much’ and ‘who do you love more’ is a thing that I learned from my father. Even though it was meant primarily as a joke, I often had to answer the question of who I love more. My answers were of course always diplomatic (I am obviously my father’s daughter), but I did adore my father. He was often away, paving his career that would lead him to his dream, and I was always left with a sense of adoration for a man who was handsome, smart, witty … And I was the one who got to have him as a dad!
My father is the kind of person who doesn’t wear his heart on his sleeve and emits a sort of rigidity that has scared the hell out of many of my friends when I was growing up. Especially boys. Hm, perhaps that was the goal? But despite of all that, he is one of the gentlest people that I know. Someone really emotional – even though emotions can also turn real sour, real fast.
My father is not the kind of person you talk to about your feelings, he is a man after all. But I always know that I can count on him. One of my favorite memories of us dates back 15 years. At that time I was a happy teenager living in a cozy protective bubble, but was often bothered by a sort of uneasiness that I couldn’t quite explain. A sort of longing that had no subject. I never talked to him about it, but whenever I wanted to I asked him to take me out for a drive. I sat in the right hand back seat and listened to music, sometimes for a few hours while he drove us around Copenhagen – through little cobble paved streets, by the sea, pass the lakes and so forth. Not a word was said, except for the ‘let’s go home’ at the end. Nothing actually needed to be said, it was enough to just be. When I moved to Ljubljana soon thereafter, those were perhaps the moments that I missed most. To this day, I love to think back on those hours and feel thankful for them.
Of course, as most fathers and daughters, we also have disagreements … Mostly because I grew up to be just as stubborn as he is. I am lucky enough to have formed my own opinions and ideas, to have grown up into a person that I am really beginning to admire and be proud of. I think I got that from him as well.
But of all things, I am most proud of his achievements and of his relentless courage to reach for his dream. He is the proof that dedication can get you what you really want. However, I also know that that takes a lot of sacrifice and even more sacrifice. He chose a path that I am probably not going to follow, but I respect it and try to encourage him to stay on track.
One of the best and worst parts of growing up is realising that your parents are just people too. They are not superheroes, they are real. Just like us. The most devastating thing here is that your illusions are broken – but the best reward is when you find out that you can be there for them too because you are strong and because you love them. For me knowing that I can help my parents when they are in need is perhaps one of the most encouraging and strengthening processes of my life. It is how I learn to be a good parent in return. Hopefully.