Assorted Gifts from My Father, In No Particular Order

 1. Two Williams-Sonoma Deluxe Stainless Steel Oil Misters, gifted for separate heartbreaks, approximately eight months apart.

2. One SpongeBob SquarePants light-up alarm clock for Christmas when I was 14. I have never in my life seen that show.

3. One pair of socks with frogs wearing crowns on their heads that I once wore under long pants and forgot about until their little frog eyes were staring up at me from the stirrups at my gynecologist’s office.

4. One pair of pink socks with glitter on them that said “princess” that I still have and occasionally still wear.

5. One pair of knee-highs with the name of a band that I saw once and didn’t particularly care for. He must have had to special order those off the Internet.

6. One really adorable and expensive-looking gift basket of bathroom goods that on closer inspection turned out to be for new mothers—belly balm, diaper rash ointment, nipple cream.

7. Sixty dollars for “babysitting myself” when I was 15 and he cancelled our father-daughter date to stay late at work.

8. Nothing on my 16th birthday, but a card the next day that said “The best things in life aren’t things.” He forgot to sign it.

9. An inexplicably hard and itchy teddy bear delivered to my college dorm on Valentine’s Day 2012.

I grew up with my dad—just me and him. I never thought much about his heartbreak or exhaustion, his worry or the depression that sometimes roared up into nights of gambling online and draining bottles of wine. The realness of his life. Its weight. His love for me.



Elizabeth Ferris is an editor and writer living in Richmond, Virginia. You can find her online at