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Out of nowhere a memory popped up in my mind.  Maybe it’s all the Hallmark movies this time of year, but as I was watching a dad/daughter moment, my history came flashing back to me…

I grew up in a small area.  Went to the city elementary School, middle school and high school.  So many of us followed the same path and graduated together.  I’m happy to say with the advent of Facebook, many of us are all still in touch.

With age comes wisdom.  But let’s face it…when you are a kid, wisdom doesn’t exist.

After living in the same area for most of my life, when my dad announced that they were moving to Boston, my head swirled and I couldn’t wrap myself around what he was saying.  Why in the world would someone EVER move from our “home”.  I was so confused.

I had graduated high school just the year before he told me this.  I had worked at a bank, but recently quit, because I wasn’t happy.  I will NEVER forget the day my dad asked me why I quit.  And when I gave him my answer his response sent me sideways… He said, “WHO GIVES YOU THE RIGHT TO BE HAPPY?”

To this day, I feel the shock in my system from his words…

In my mind I screamed, “I GIVE MYSELF THE RIGHT TO BE HAPPY!”  But of course, through the shock, I can’t even remember what I said.  I just remember this chest bumping, nose to nose moment with him where he questioned my decision making.  And I thought he was an ass who lost his mind….

Because I had no job to support myself, he “forced” me to come back to Boston with him, my mom and little brother, and because I knew I didn’t have a leg to stand on, I was literally the screaming kid hanging on to the banister fighting for my life.   I had never lived anywhere else and in my mind, there was no where else to live.  I mean, my gosh, who actually LIVED on the other side of the country… ???  (#thosepeople)

It’s amazing how naiveté can lead you astray…

My parents had already left our home and headed East.  Shortly thereafter I followed on the plane by myself.  I remember having a few chairs to myself and curling in fetal position across the seats to my dreaded future.  I had no choice.  My mind was closed, my  heart was closed, I was dead inside.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, my dad waited, excited to show me new life.  He’d grown up in Pennsylvania (as did my mom), so this life was everything he was used to.  Only, he’d never lived there with a bitter and angry 19 yr old daughter….

From the moment he picked me up, I cried.  I missed my friends, I missed my “home”.

When my dad heard me crying in the back seat, he had LESS than no sympathy for me, (and until I became a parent, I had no idea why).

I resented my time there.  I got so sick, I had to drive myself to the doctor and try to get directions from anyone who clearly had no idea how to drive themselves out of their own towns…

I remember as I drove, I thought to myself, “God I hope I don’t get lost!”… Then I burst out laughing hysterically… THIS WHOLE DAMNED STATE IS LOST ON ME … I had no idea where I was no matter where I was.  And in that moment, an ounce of freedom hit my heart.  For the first time in a while, there was an ounce of release in my soul.  That said, I left the doctor with a good few prescriptions; one of which was to help me relax.

I realized I didn’t want to be there.  I realized I was resenting it with every fiber of my being.

Shortly after that, I had earned enough money for a ticket back to California.  I found a person selling a ticket and was excited to get back “home”.

I will never forget the look on my dads face when I told him… And the gravity of it is harder to see now that I have teens of my own…

He was disappointed.. sad…heartbroken…

and I left…

I came back to California, found a place to stay, got a job and realized….I was an asshole.

My parents had given me the opportunity to live in a new area, rent free, and discover a new life.  But because I was selfish and closed minded, I rejected their offering.  My dad felt abandoned by me, and I didn’t get it.  And we barely talked.

Not long after, my parents came out to visit.  … “visit”….

I didn’t see them until the night they were going to fly back.  I was resistant and stubborn (as all get out).  We (family) were meeting at Lamppost Pizza where I used to work.  I don’t remember all the details of who was there, why that location was chosen…I just remember when I got there, the relationship was strained.  We Mesaros’ are stubborn ass people.  Strong willed and not willing to bend.  But toward the end of the night…there was a moment, a glance, an understanding that words were left unsaid.  And as stubborn as we can be, I ran into my dads arms and collapsed on his lap on the bench, and cried like a five year old in complete sorrow!  He held me as I cried, in the middle of a pizza place.  In that moment, no one was there.  It was just me and my dad.  My tears asked for his forgiveness, and his tight hug accepted, without words.

My dad was 100% unadulterated raw, genuine, authentic, for better or worse.    And I am so thankful for that.  He is the reason I am who I am, and he is the passion in my heart and the fire under my skin.

I realize now, that when my dad asked me, “Who gives you the right to be happy?”, it was because come hell or high water, he would live or die for his family.  Happiness wasn’t an option.  It was a by product when it would come, and he’d gladly accept.

I’m so grateful for the every day that I got with my dad.  For better or worse; for every lecture, or forced moment of sitting with him while he worked on cars, with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, he was a stellar example of a man who gave his all for his family.

And after he passed, I had a dream about him… I saw him in an open area and I grabbed him and started crying.  He just held me… No words needed to be spoken.

Not long after, I had another dream..it was like a phone call. All I remember is asking, “how is it where you are?” and his response was simple… “Better’n you can imagine”…

I can’t dispute the dreams.. real or not, I’m gonna keep them.