Learning to Melt


I sat on the beach the other day and watched from behind my oversized sunglasses, as this big, tough-n-gruff dad played in the waves with his little pre-school aged daughter. Absolutely adorable. I don’t know exactly what it is, but there is something so endearing about watching dads tenderly carry and twirl and play with their daughters. Maybe it’s because there is part of me that has always been a daddy’s girl.

I love my dad. He’s not perfect, but I happen to think he pretty great.

My dad has taught me valuable life lessons over the years: As a little girl he taught me how to pump on the swings (probably so he didn’t have to push me anymore). While driving around the city, he taught me that all of the odd addresses are one side of the street and evens are on the other. And when I got my driver’s license he taught me how to check my oil and tire pressure regularly. He modeled how to bargain at a garage sale and always ask for a discount. He showed me how to drive without using any hands (my mom loves him for this one) and he helped me develop an appreciation for maps and books and new uses for old things.

But I think one of the most important lessons my dad taught me is how to melt.

During my first semester of college I drove home to spend Thanksgiving with my family. I was an overwhelmed, stressed, and albeit self-absorbed college student who probably took life a little too seriously. The adjustment to college was hard for me. I strived so hard to do well and succeed, but in the process I didn’t know quite who I was. I remember storming into the garage after sitting in traffic for 4 hours. I was tense and frustrated…probably nothing like the light-hearted, carefree Michelle, you know now (umm, that’s kind of a joke).

My dad was standing there in the garage with his arms open-wide. He embraced me in a one of those big, sweet, long, dad hugs. The only problem was I didn’t really hug him back. I mean I thought I did, but apparently I wrapped my arms around his ribs and squeezed for a quick 2-second in-and-out-kinda-hug. You know the kind where there is no embrace, no lingering- just a tense-arms-tighten-pull-back-quick-kinda-hug. My dad empathetically shook is head. He saw through me, straight to my heart.

“Michelle, you have to melt.”

He knew what I needed. He hugged me again. And that intense, stressed and worried college student’s heart and arms and mind melted. He held me there in the garage, the way a dad holds his daughter when he knows what’s best for her. When all he wants is for her to relax, and trust and rest in the fact that life is going to be ok. Sometimes a hug is all I need.

I have a theory that some people naturally melt when they hug and they my friends, make excellent huggers. Other people like me have to learn how to melt, how to slowly and wholeheartedly embrace someone you care about with the warmth and softness of melting.

So here’s to my dad, for teaching me how to melt.

I love you, Dad.

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