Growing Closer with My Dad

Emily Wallis avatar

by Emily Wallis |

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My relationship with my dad has always been about tough love. He has very high expectations for me, we’re both quick-tempered, and we have plenty of disagreements.

When I was younger, my dad was strict because he knew I was smart and should have behaved better. We had our share of small arguments and weren’t nearly as close as we are now. Despite this, I recognized what a great dad I’d been blessed with, and now, given what my family has faced, recognizing that is more important than ever.

In 2015, each seemingly insignificant argument between my dad and me became heavier because we became “the healthy ones” in the family.

After my sister’s diagnosis of Sanfilippo syndrome and my mom’s cancer diagnosis, I knew that every future argument with him would carry an emotional weight because it would feel as if I were putting an extra burden on him. He was one of the main reasons I was able to go to college and earn my degree, as he handled both my mom’s cancer and my sister’s Sanfilippo diagnosis.

I thought a lot about this extra weight on our relationship. I thought about the terrible future I might have in store, given that my mom and my sister have two different terminal diseases. Whenever I had to fathom these ideas, I also would wonder if he was OK. I worried so much about him while I was at school, and I still do. I think, “If I’m feeling this way, how is he feeling?”

Every Sunday morning while my mom is at choir rehearsal, my dad and I go to breakfast before church. We’ve done this for many years, and it’s become a routine. It’s one of my favorite parts of the week, and without fail, we get along and have good conversation.

Our weekly conversations always include four things: laughing, singing, eating, and talking about sports. Sports is what brings us closest. Some of my favorite memories with him are when he coached baseball and we would either go to his games or to Astros games. The quality time we spend bonding over sports is special to me.

On Sunday mornings, I’m reminded of how lucky I am to have a built-in best friend for a dad. He’s the first person I call with a problem or a question, and he and my mom are the people I want to make the proudest.

Now that I’m home from college, I especially look forward to our time on Sunday mornings, given that I’ll be moving out soon.

Although we still have our days when we’re on each other’s nerves, I can’t imagine my life without the big goofball that is my dad. I feel somewhat dependent on him in the best way. It comes from a place of knowing that we have each other’s backs and will support each other through our future with Sanfilippo — and any other obstacles that come our way.


Note: Sanfilippo News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sanfilippo News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Sanfilippo syndrome.


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