My dad has always been the liveliest person I know. He and my mom divorced when I was three and he lived far away, so instead of swapping weekends we'd get long summers and vacations together. I remember those times being almost like an extended trip to Neverland. Dad was up for any idea that popped into my head, any time of the day or night. He took care of my childish impulses, giving me the freedom to be me. But there comes a time in every daughter's life when she finds herself leaning more towards taking care of dad, and a little less the other way around.

Dad making faces

Taking Care of Dad from a Distance

Dad lives nine hours away, a tricky drive with kids but one we try to make every quarter or so. He's still as wacky as ever, making funny faces at the toddler and buzzing about the latest sights around town. We walk around San Francisco together, sharing a love of thrift shops and history. He seems to know every person on every corner, quite a feat in a city of almost a million people.

dad looking off into the distance

We pick him up in our truck and drive him through the hills, reminding him of the countryside where he grew up. I think it's important to maintain perspective on the vastness of the world to stay centered. Dad doesn't have much other family, so quiet moments together are special, and I try to give him as much of that time to hold on to when I'm far away. We also talk every few days, and I'll admit that I pry a little too much into his well-being. “What have you been eating? Do you go out with friends? Are you seeing the doctor regularly?”

Taking care of dad from far away

Taking care of dad, especially when your dad is a single guy who lives alone, starts to feel like a natural responsibility when you become a parent yourself. I suddenly understand why my grandma used to fuss over every family member, making sure we had every possible necessity. Father's Day and holidays in general aren't a big thing for Dad and I, but I take advantage of the opportunity to get all his bases covered. Snacks, toothbrushes, vitamins…I send up a little something or bring along a small care package when I visit. It's not so much that he needs to be cared for, but taking care of dad helps me feel more connected to him, like in the smallest way I'm empowering him to be more of himself. The gift he gave me of self-expression and empowerment seems to have come full circle, as I try to take away any worries he has beyond just being himself and sharing his smiles with us.

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I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.