I didn’t mean to marry my father.
I mean, I didn’t actually marry my father. But the man that I married possesses many character qualities and quirks and other attributes that sometimes make my eyes bug out, my head snap back and look at him through squinted eyes just to make sure it’s really my husband and not my dad.
I dated a lot of people who weren’t like my dad. At all. In any way, shape, or form. My dad is a lot of things — but he is neither selfish nor cruel. I dated a few of those over the years. Selfish and cruel at the same time always made for the best combination. Best meaning most disastrous, once with violent consequences. To boot, I had my heart broken many a time, but I also broke a few hearts along the way. I’d make myself sound all innocent in that regard, but at least one time, the heart-breaking done on my end came about with purposeful intent. Thankfully, mostly for my guilt complex, I found that feeling to be not-so-awesome and moved on to not being a total jerk myself.
But yes, I dated some total jerks. Some of them read this blog. (HI! I’m glad you’re not still a total jerk, too! Welcome to the club of Once a Jerk, Not Always a Jerk!) I could get on board with the whole “those people were in my life to teach me something” train of thought… and maybe it’s true. Because at least those jerks — and my foray into jerkdom — taught me what I didn’t want in a partner.
I didn’t know my now-husband was a younger incarnation of my father when I met him. I didn’t realize their similarities when we started dating either. I focused on the differences, trying to find all the reasons why this man I was falling desperately in love with was different enough from my family of origin to warrant starting another family, our own family. He had tattoos; my dad hated tattoos! He drove a Mustang; my dad once had a Camero, but life and children made him a pickup man. On and on, I found the differences and placed him in the Not Selfish and Not Cruel but Definitely Different Category.
Then we got married.
My husband now drives the same truck as my dad. When we’re driving in said truck, my husband will flip endlessly through the radio channels before switching to sports talk radio — on AM, with all of the crackling and static and me holding my hands over my ears much like I did as my dad would drive me, in his pickup truck, to voice lessons every Thursday evening during high school. He’s incredibly helpful, both with everyday household things like laundry and dishes like my own father is, but also with all of the handy stuff like rewiring the house so we can hook up a generator in case our electricity is out for nine days ever again. (Please, never again.) He loves him some baseball and football and all the sports. A good beer? Yes, please! And, just like my dad, he likes to push all of my buttons, just for the sake of pushing them.
And when I say, “Honey, I need to tell you something but you’re not going to like it,” he’ll sigh at me in that same tone-of-sigh my dad sighs at my mom with, listen to me as I explain that we need to go help my parents work on the cottage on one of his rare Saturdays off, and nod his head. Come Saturday morning, he will gather up all of his tools, his toolbelt, his patience, his children, his dog, and me, his wife, and he’ll drive an hour-and-a-half to help my parents work on the hundred year old cottage that probably needs rebuilt but is getting new siding instead. He’ll hammer and measure and climb up and down the ladder. He’ll walk it along the wall while still on it, while I yell, “Don’t do that! That’s not safe!” And he’ll turn, smile at me, and say — at the same time as my father — “How else am I supposed to move the ladder?”
I married well.