I recognize that I'm enormously fortunate to have an abundance of loving father figures in my life. This is no small thing - and it's less common than is right or fair. If I could share these precious men with everyone, I would, because they're simply the best. I'll share a bit of them with you, here. My Dad.
Things I've learned from my Dad:
- To love to read. To appreciate poetry.
- How to navigate through any airport.
- How to work a charcoal grill. How to start a fire.
- How to make the perfect omlette, steak, cup of coffee.
- How to fold laundry (leaving the least amount of wrinkles humanly possible).
- That action movies aren't just for guys. That James Bond and Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan are awesome.
- How to pack anything. I can fit more into the trunk of a car than you can. I am also superior at packing suitcases, storing food so that it lasts forever, etc. This makes me very annoying to travel with, just ask my husband.
- He introduced me to The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Billy Joel, Paul Simon, Willie Nelson, Randy Travis, etc. - to name a few.
- How to take the tip off of his crutch and launch bottle rockets out of it.
- How to drive a boat, and a car.
- That he would still love me even after I wrecked said car.
- How to handle myself around a gun. And power tools. And big dogs.
- How to use chopsticks.
- That church is important, and that I should go even on mornings when I can't find anything to wear.
- That, mostly, a disability is only as disabling as you allow it to be. And that complaining is ugly and a total waste of time.
- That emotion is healthy. That love is consuming. That crying in church, in conversation, while enjoying music, is good - it means you're alive.
My mom and I have a very special relationship - she's one of my most precious friends and an incredible, incredible woman, but I have more in common with my Dad. We are peas in a pod. And as I'm sure is the case for most of us, looking back over my childhood now, as an adult, I have a much deeper understanding and appreciation for all the ways he fathered me.
As a single dad of a self-conscious fifth grade girl, he learned to french braid my hair. That is one of my very favorite memories, sitting by the side of his bed while he braided my hair for me. He let me sleep in my sleeping bag in his bedroom one night when I was in high school and he sat on the end of his bed and listened to me cry and gush about a fight I was having with some childhood friends. He chased my brother and I all over a three-story house playing "the nose game" (You know, wherein he steals our noses). He took us traveling all over the country, visiting family (and theme parks). He made holidays special and full of tradition. He came to my rescue a hundred times and in a hundred ways. He has big calloused hands that can fix anything, and he gives the best bear hugs ever.
My Dad was my provider, protector, counselor and teacher. He showed me love and grace at every turn. Every little girl should be so blessed.
Happy Father's Day, Dad. Thank you for the million sacrifices; the bottomless, unconditional love. I am able to understand God as my heavenly father just a little bit better because of the way you parented us. I love you very much.