My father, the Whistling Man, has made me who I am today


Dear Whistling Man,

How can one measure the worth of another human being? 

Perhaps by the number of times that you pushed your oldest daughter in her toy car, sending cascades of laughter to pour out as you dash from room to room. Your booming cackle echoing off of the walls of the kitchen as you slide into the living room. Her shrills floating in the path behind you, until you need to stop, gasping for air. 

Perhaps by the number of times that you gave up your entire day to make your daughter happy. The countless times you were dragged from room to room, a whirlwind of dolls, and crayons, elements that don’t involve the grown-up world. You had so much work to get done. Instead, you had to wait until you tucked her into bed and her quick, shallow puffs steadied before you slipped out to work on what she forced you to avoid all day. 

Perhaps by the countless hours you spent holed up in the basement, under the stairs, watching your daughter’s toes curling against the cement floor while your snickers were veiled by Rascal Flatts, wafting through the air. Dust caking the bottoms of your feet, squeezing its way between your toes. You lounged upon a wooden chair, offering the musty-smelling beanbag to your daughter, putting her comfort above your own. 

Perhaps by the number of times that you allowed your daughter to smear lipstick and eyeshadow upon your face, creating a clown rather than the intended celebrity. These hastily painted nails in an assortment of colors. Hues of blues, purples, and pinks. More skin pasted in the ghastly colors than the nails themselves, but you told your daughter that it was fine handiwork. You told her that you adored it. She didn’t realize that meant you adored her, not her sloppy work.  

Perhaps by the number of times that you sat still as your little girls pulled at your hair, pinching plastic butterflies in your mane. Wincing as they yank them out, ripping a few strands along with it. 

Perhaps by the number of times that you protected her from the monsters thrashing under her bed. Your strong arms engulfed her as she awoke in terror, being the only thing that kept her pinned down to Earth. You merely held her, didn’t care about how she would leave your shirt sodden as she pulled away. 

Perhaps by the number of drawings that you store in the plastic bin in your closet. Snatching discarded sketches from the kitchen table. Fishing paintings from the garbage deemed unworthy by the artist whom you adore with all of your heart. Tucking them away, until it’s safe for them to see the light of day again—when there’s no longer a danger of them being torn up—when you slip them out to show your children how talented they are. 

Perhaps by the numerous times you were forced to sit through yet another Disney movie. But it was worth it to let your daughter curl up against you, burrowing a little deeper as the villain comes into the frame. Hours later you can be heard whistling the melody of one of the many catchy ballads performed in the film. 

Perhaps by the number of times your oldest daughter changed her interests. Learning all you can about One Direction or allowing her to describe the plots of all the Harry Potter books—despite her lengthy explanations, or being told she doesn’t like Justin Bieber anymore. You sprint to catch up with her ever-changing passions. 

Sadly, your oldest daughter grew as all children do. You may prevent it as much as you can, but the reality is inevitable. The young girl who would beg to play with you is now too infatuated with friends and boys to pay attention to her now neglected father. Although she may not show it, she does love you. As she ages, she notices many traits that you have left her. In her cackle is your bellowing chuckle. The crinkles creeping out from the sides of your eyes when you smile are now etched into her face. 

Through the years, your oldest daughter has asked you for numerable wishes—a pony, a puppy, and multiple dolls—but she must ask you for one more promise. Promise her that you will never stop your treks through the wilderness. That you will continue to crash through the forests, quests to find the perfect fishing hole. Promise her that you won’t give up your experiment for constructing the perfect lure. Promise her that as your arms are up to your elbows in the soap suds and the remnants of dinner, you will blast Jim Croce, his voice bellowing throughout the kitchen. Promise her that you will never stop whistling. 

Your daughter measures you by how much of an impact that you have left on her life. You made her who she is today. She owes all that she is to you. 


Your Oldest Daughter