Some may call him Colonel, CB, brother and son. But to me, he is and always will be, dad.
If you have been or are lucky enough to have a great relationship with your dad, one very much like the one I have, you know how special they truly are, what they add to your life, the knowledge they give and the unconditional love and support they provide. My dad has given me ample amounts of ice cream sundaes (our weekly tradition of getting ice cream-wasted at our favorite Briq’s Soft Serve summer haunt is one of my sweetest memories) and has been my own personal cheering section during countless track meets and softball games. My dad taught me how to change the oil in my car, how to throw the perfect curve ball, make a mean pot of chili, and has had more patience that I probably deserve.
He’s given me a few other things along the way too.
First and foremost, my dad taught me the value in a good sense of humor. The only downside to life is that there will be tough moments, hard moments, and no amount of planning or luck can impede them forever. My dad showed me that even in the most difficult situations–trips to the ER, a botched interview, a broken heart–having a sense of humor about it all can dissolve any tension, fear or sadness in an instant. I especially love the way my dad’s eyes light up when he smiles and how his laugh can carry through all floors of the house. My uncanny punability and affinity for corny dad-jokes are all because of this guy.
As cliché as it sounds, my dad also showed me how to appreciate the little things. One cold and rainy night when I was 12, my dad brought out a deck of cards and a strange looking board with pegged holes aligned all around it. He told me to turn the TV off and pull up a seat next to him at the kitchen table because “It’s high time I taught you how to play Cribbage.” Four hours and eight games, a bowl of my dad’s famous stovetop popcorn and two glasses of chocolate milk later, I had not only mastered the game, but I had, more importantly, gotten to spend a night with my dad that I would remember forever. The stories we shared, the belly-laughs that were exchanged and the high-fives that were given across the table that night are things that I will never forget, a moment that no TV show or movie or expensive toy could ever replicate. To this day, playing Cribbage with him is one of my favorite things to do, “our thing”.
I also remember all of the times my dad would take me for hikes, pointing out all of the trees, flowers and varying animal tracks. Or when we would go out on his fishing boat; he’d show me what areas of the lake the fish liked to live, how the wind and rip tides affected the water and the best kinds of bait to use for different fish. I was never overly excited about the wildlife personally, but his excitement was so infectious that I looked forward to those walks in the woods and boat rides, jumping at the chance to grab my coat and go on an adventure. I looked forward to the day when I would find my own simple things to find joy in, and I have. I find mine in the bright lights of a new city, in the pages of a good book, and in a new pair of fresh-out-of-the-dryer pants (among other things). As I get older, my favorite things will evolve and change, but I hope that my excitement for them never fades.
My dad taught me how to show love with a simple gesture. One day I broke my favorite blue crayon and immediately burst into tears. My dad took the crayon from me and worked on it for at least ten minutes before declaring it was “Good as new!” He superglued the pieces together so it lasted for as long as it was still my favorite crayon (probably only a few hours in all honesty). On the rare days that he would pack my school lunches, he would sneak in a full pack of Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls (instead of just the one that my mom would put in), he let me sit on his lap and “drive” his truck down our driveway, and he knew those times when I just really needed one of his giant bear hugs.
My dad has shown me the power of faith, of hope and of love. He’s proved that there is strength in forgiveness, in facing our fears, and standing up for what we believe in. He’s taught me that you should never stop learning, stop challenging yourself or making mistakes. After all, it’s in these three things that you will grow the most.
I am so very lucky and grateful for my dad, not only because of the unlimited ice cream sundaes and operable blue crayons, but because he has helped shape my character for the better. I’m an even greater me because of him.
To my dad, and all other dads, step-dads, and grandfathers this Father’s Day (and everyday), thank you.
We love you.