My dad taught me a lot of lessons before his death. In addition to teaching me about God, life, and reassuring me that he was always okay with my decisions, he also found time to teach me about beauty. He continuously reminded me that I was beautiful, even on the days when I didn’t feel it.
He took a special interest in building my confidence. First there was the scar on my forehead – this didn’t bother me much. I hated my bangs, I wanted to grow my hair out, and I could only vaguely remember not having that scar. However, when it came to my teeth, I was a thousands times more conscious.
You see, when I was a child, I lost my baby tooth and the adult tooth refused to come in. We went to the dentist where it was discovered that I had 1.5 adult teeth in that socket and that was the reason the adult tooth hadn’t come in yet. I had surgery and the extra half tooth was removed. The full adult tooth would come in at a slight angle. I would spend the next decade refusing to smile with my teeth showing.
At one point, I was supposed to get braces to fix the problem and my overbite. However, financial struggles prevented this was happening. I remembering being so upset with my dad as a teenager because I was so unhappy with my teeth and knew there was a solution but also knew it wasn’t going to be a reality.
My dad never got upset back. Instead, he took a different approach – he would build my self confidence up and help me overcome my hatred of my teeth. He encouraged me to smile with my teeth, telling me how happy it made him when he saw me truly happy. When taking senior pictures, he started to crack jokes to make me laugh, getting the picture he truly loved – his daughter having a great time. I remember when those pictures came back, he pointed out his favorite picture – the one where you could see my teeth. At the time, it wasn’t my favorite and I choose a different picture for my yearbook. His favorite picture was kept in my scrapbook, the wall, and in his wallet.
Over the years, I’ve grown to love that picture almost as much as my dad. I understand what he saw in it that I was unable to see as a stubborn teenager – there was happiness in my eyes. I let down my guard and laughed, forgetting for a moment about my teeth.
I’ve gained more confidence as the years have passed. I’m no longer self-conscious about my teeth or the tooth that is at a slight angle. Now, I’m extremely grateful for the time and energy my dad spent all those years to help turn me into the woman I am – and to help me gain the confidence to take on the world.