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That’s The Why

Family photoWhen I was quite young, I apparently had a habit of emphasizing my explanations with an emphatic: That’s the why.

I don’t remember this at all, of course, but my mother, who loved my unique little phrase, talked about it often. She also admitted that she didn’t correct me for the longest time because she loved how it sounded.

The story she told most frequently involved my father and me. Apparently I was particularly cranky one night –– “crooked as sin”, as they say in Newfoundland –– and highly uncooperative in the preparations for bed.

When my mother pointed this out, my father looked at me and said: You’re not crooked, are you duck? You’re tired.

To which I immediately answered: That’s the why, Daddy. I’m not crooked, I’m tired.

My mother threw her hands up into the air at that point and left us to our own devices, which was undoubtedly the wisest thing to do.

If you’ve read A Daughter’s Gift, or certain Author Notes, you’ll already know I had a very special bond with my father. I describe our relationship as the kind every daughter should be blessed with. He was the best father a daughter could ever hope for; he was protector, and mentor, and teacher, and friend and I loved (love) him with all my heart.

I know there are some people who will read about the exchange above and say I had my father ‘wrapped around my little finger’. In fact, I think it was hearing that phrase recently that made me think of this story again. Others would think he ‘spoiled me rotten’ and was just making excuses for me.

But if you knew my dad, you’d know he didn’t spoil his children or make excuses for us. What he did instead was the most important thing of all –– he loved us unconditionally and helped us understand.

It seems to me that my dad was born during a time when people knew how to do things without being taught them. As long as they could decipher the root of a problem, they could find their way to an answer.

In my dad’s case, his specialties were engine rooms and vehicles. He was the person you wanted in the engine room because he’d keep the ship running, and he could fix anything on four wheels, once he figured out the problem. And, until Alzheimer’s robbed him of that ability, he always did just that.

In other words, he always figured out ‘the why’.

I don’t say ‘that’s the why’ anymore, well, not very often anyway. But the importance of understanding ‘the why’ is ingrained in me. Whether it’s why I’m crooked (sadly, for Peter and Kenneth, that can still happen when I’m tired),  or why something is happening at work or with a writing project, or why someone is behaving a certain way… I know it’s invaluable to look at ‘the why’.

Just like my father did before me.