Hunting season holds a place in my heart not because I hunt but because my dad did. In his own over-animated way, he used to call me up a bunch of times ahead of the season to tell me he was packed, ready to drive over from Seattle to be with the family. I rolled my eyes, smiled...his excitement touched my heart. I was mowing my yard the other night tears running down my face… crisp fall air filled my nose. I noticed leaves are changing to brilliant colors, birds are eating the leftover berries on my trees, and my heart aches. I miss those calls. I miss him.
I push the mower with determination to shut down the pinching heartache. My overactive mind swirls and churns with my summer film projects, a house needing work, an upcoming photo shoot, daughters I want to spend more time with, a mile long list of ideas for sharing my talent, how to make time for some really cool new people in my life, health insurance papers that need to be addressed, friendships that have soured, snowboarding, how I feel I have shorted myself in life and love… I turn my dad’s old cap on my head backwards and push the mower with more focused force and precision.
Rediscovering the heart in my dreams has been like hunting for my keys on a morning that I am WAY late for work. Sweat pours down my pits, the anxiety of getting out the door makes me shake as I wonder who is going to say what when I walk in the door late… and I verbally slap myself for being stupid the night before for not leaving things in a place I could find them easily. When I find them, I am hell bent to push whatever limit I can to at least save two minutes of time.
My dad supported me in the arts and how it was growing into a larger part in my life…but I never felt he got why I do it. He would smile, listen, shake his head and I could tell he was glad the conversation evolved to other things. Determined to get every mowing line straight, I pay sharper attention to where I mowed last and what I need to mow next and flip the mower around.
I felt the fire in my belly getting hotter as I started spit balling ideas within my soul about how to move forward with acting. I feel like I have returned to first grade, only as an adult. Everyone else seems to have this neat orderly progression of growing into themselves, where mine went to hell, came back, cleaned up, and have been in frequent scrambles to create and find myself. Why can’t I direct my thoughts and emotions better? How can I daisy chain together the place where I came from to where I want to go?
Emptying the grass bag, I notice that there are only a few straight lines and swirls in the grass mowing pattern in certain places… it looks kind of neat. I think more about my dad. He was a single dad for a part of my growing up. Because my non-stop curiosity, questioning everything, the arts, and insane love of life I have been a self-described pink sheep of the family. Often on the outside looking in, trying to figure out ways to fit in, ways to connect, ways to love, ways to express my soul.
I think about the heroic way he chose to be in life. He clearly stood for and was unwavering in commitment to his family, values and his faith. My heart softly melts as I think of his gnarled hands from years of janitor work and how he served people. I could call him any time day or night, he was there, he was my constant. He was generous to a fault with the small amount of money he made. He made clear choices honoring women and was prepared to fight, if necessary, disrespect in any way shape or form. He believed wholeheartedly in women’s value and education. His walk and talk matched.
These last few thoughts are the gifts I needed to remember all over again… and share. There is a mixed bag of dads out there and I want to send a huge shout out to honor dad’s out there that live the kind of life that supports their daughter’s voice, their enthusiasm, education, talents, and value. The world needs you. Sometimes good dad voices are ignored, dumbed down in society & media, or flat out made unimportant. So: THANK YOU to the dads having the courage to express themselves outside of stereotypes, choosing to communicate and support your family - especially your daughters, work your job each day - often without notice or thanks, and for growing up, cleaning up, and creating your lives. It is a brave choice! Your effort is important in nurturing the strong sharing-minded bridges we need built so all women can express their souls in this world.
Who my dad was and the way he lived are some of the building blocks I use to share the arts, love, and live life. Because of my dad, I know my voice has a place in this world. Because of my dad I have tremendous work ethics, resourcefulness and sunshine resilience. I have a built in heart for service.
It would be so great (HUGE understatement) if he had lived longer to share more life adventures with the family! His number is still in my phone. I want to call and talk to him about my filming, auditions, website, networking, traveling, and of course, all the other things in life that are moving and changing and about my daughters. His passing through my life feels like it went so fast and was so short.
Snot running down my face, sniffling still, mascara I'm sure running everywhere, as I put the mower away felt glad the neighbors were not out and about in their yards. No matter how behind I feel I am, how much anxiety I feel when intense scheduling hits and I buckle down for go-time, and how much god-blessed uncomfortablity I feel in opening back up my dreams to faith they can happen… I know I have good building blocks. Some of those came from my dad. I am so proud of that. Send it out there with great love today - you deserve no less than that. Big hugs (share this note with other dads, step dads, stand in dads, or dudes you know that could use this thanks!)
Blog by Mary Riitano...
I'm a Montana actress on a journey sharing my heart and growth through blogging, stories, and poetry, I have faith you'll find empowerment and inspiration to create like a champion in your own life!
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