Daddy’s Girl….Even now
He was only 18 years old when my twin brother and I came into this world. Imagine being so young and having your life change forever with a whole set of responsibilities just handed to you in pink and blue blankets. I can only fathom the fear of the unknown that both my parents were facing at that time. My Dad was the lifeguard on the beach and DJ at the local radio station in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. That changed quickly after Mike and I were born and he went on to work in the field of construction alongside my Grandfather (whom my Dad considered a father to him).
I realized my Grandparents were mentors to my parents because they were so young at the time. Our family unit was close and everywhere my Grandparents moved for work in construction, my family was moving with them because Dad now had the same job. Memories of places we lived when I was very little seemed the same and that was I always felt that my parents were doing the best they could to make my brother and I safe and taken care.
Music was an important part of my home growing up. My father loved a variety of music from gospel to Mowtown but one of his favorites was rock and roll. He loved the Doobie Brothers, Three Dog Night and Credence Clearwater Revival. He had their albums and they played often in the homes we lived in. Now, don’t get me wrong he also had The Drifters, Sam Cooke and the Supremes just to name a few of the Motown greats as well! That seemed natural to me through out my life and it reflects what I have on my Itunes today.
My Dad was respected in the home. You never wanted to make him mad because there was no mistaking when you did! I grew up in the generation where if you got in trouble at school you would get a spanking by the Principal and then you would get several at home from your Dad and then your Grandpa! I only recall getting in trouble once in school for calling a bully to me a name that my teacher didn’t like, but all I received was a lecture for running my mouth and not thinking.
My relationship with my Dad changed some as I got older. There was parts of me that were my father and at times at the dinner table we could argue. Even today my Mom will laugh when she tells the stories of those times because she looked at me and said “Michele, you would have to have the last word” which garnered the nickname “motor mouth”. I also noticed things like my Dad reading devotions early every morning like a routine. His faith would become important to him in my teen years and whether he realizes or not he helped me with my walk with God even to today. It was that faith that helped me stay out of trouble as a teenager and without my Dad, my relationship with the Lord would not have been important like it is. I hope he knows that.
I always wanted my Dad’s approval growing up and especially as a teenager. I don’t think my father realized this until one day he noticed I wasn’t talking anymore and any comments about my appearance garnered significant changes. I remember the reaction on his face one day when I came out of my room dressed up to go out with a guy on a date and he responded by saying , “Michele you are getting too skinny and those pants are too baggy!” Little did he know that even though I was losing weight, the style in the early 80′s was baggy pants and shoulder pads!
The boyfriends I had were always nervous when they met my father because he was never one to mince words. He would look directly in their eyes and tell them, “if you hurt my daughter, you will have to deal with me.” And that was true, because in a couple of cases my father was true to his words and made sure the guys knew exactly how he felt about his “little girl” crying of a broken heart.
My Dad was protective of me and felt a little lost of what to do if I was sad. There was no “playbook” on how to respond to a daughter with a broken heart. He didn’t know what to say other than telling me “it was their loss honey and you are still young.” Even when I was getting married (at a young age, too young I might add) just before he walked me down the aisle he whispered to me “are you sure this is what you want to do? You can leave and I’ll cover for you?” Boy, how I wished I listened to his advice but that is another story all together!
Our family was never perfect, and it seems looking back we were all growing up together because my parents were so young. One thing for sure and that is the “Toth” family was always around water! Whether it was home to Florida at the beaches of New Smyrna or Daytona to the lakes at Clark’s Hill when we moved to Augusta, we were always doing something outside and on the water. My brother and I always had friends with us and so did our parents. It was a great time roughing it outside camping and my father was always the leader with the boat! He never stopped and as hard as he worked in his job, he worked equally hard to make sure the times at the beach or the lake were fun.
As I got older and became wiser with experience I grew into a person that many who knows my Dad would say to me “You are definitely Bill Toth’s daughter.” I take pride when I am told that because that means to me that I stick up for myself. If someone asks me my advice I always warn them that they better think about it before asking me again because I am always one to tell you what you need to hear and not necessarily what you want to hear. When people walk away from me they know I am real and won’t turn around and say something different to someone else when you are gone. They also know I don’t play the games many people do and I can take care of myself. That was my father.
When I found myself a single parent, it was the work ethic that my father help instill in me that helped me become successful. We earned everything we had growing up and we had chores to do without question. My Dad would work at his job in construction and come home dusty and sweaty each day and yet he would do the same on the weekends in the yard. That ethic of working hard to get what you want helped me to be successful and able to care for my two sons and afford the things I wanted.
I was always proud of my father when I became an adult and beamed with pride when he moved to Charleston, SC and had a successful business of his own in construction. He was awarded major contracts and even helped build the props for Bruce Willis “Die Hard 3″ movie that was shot in Charleston as well as the Mark Clark bridge. However, you would never hear my father brag about it, to him it was just a job he was on but he made sure it was done right. When he was successful and had the nicer things in life he was always humble. When the economy got bad and he had to sell everything and move to Florida, he was still happy because he knew he did everything he could to make it and now he was back home again.
Today, he still works hard every day and people still look to him for his advice. I still look for his approval though as his daughter and when he tells me how proud he is of me, I still beam like his little girl. There are still times we don’t agree on some things, but he looks at me now with respect when I give my position on an issue. I think there is a part of him that says to himself “yep, she is most definitely Bill Toth’s daughter.” Well, after all he did have something to do with that.
I wish I could see him more today. I miss my Dad. I miss his smile and his blue eyes. He is fun to be around and I wish we could be around each other more often. At least I know he is happy living back home in New Smyrna Beach and I am more than certain he feels like he never left when he walks on those beaches. Today, thanks to Facebook I can see the pictures of when he has fun with his friends and know he is happy.
As I write this blog I am tearful because I want my Dad to know just how much I love him and appreciate him for everything he sacrificed for my brother and I growing up. Sure, there were learning curves being a parent at such a young age and having twins on top of that, but I want him to know that he truly did the best he could with what he was given. He is my heart and I am truly “Daddy’s girl”! I love you Dad.