“Sister, at the end of your life, you’re never going to say, ‘Gee, I wish I would have worked more.’ Just be happy.” -My Dad
Our Dad never missed a baseball game or basketball game or volleyball game. He was never too busy to make an Honor Society event or an Odyssey of the Mind competition or a graduation.
He cleared his schedule when we were sick and he hugged us when we cried. He made sure there was gas in the car and the oil was changed. He calls to make sure we made it home OK from work or after a long trip. He supports our decisions even when he doesn’t agree with them. He taught us about loyalty and family and unconditional love and showed us the value of hard work.
When I was little, our nighttime ritual included a bedtime story and his goofy version of 'You are My Sunshine' that always made me laugh. He was there for everything. Big moments and little ones. Still is.
Every time I call him (at least once a day), he says “Hi, Sister!” in the most excited voice you’ve ever heard. Like we haven’t spoken in weeks, even if it has only been a couple of hours. Sometimes I can’t believe how lucky I am.
We’ve almost lost him twice. He’s beaten back heart disease for more than twenty years. He is now a seven-year blood cancer survivor. His battle with the latter inspired our family and friends to raise $130,000 dollars for research funded by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and to create a research grant in his name. That’s the kind of man he is. The one who inspires others to give, just because of the life he lives. A dedicated and loving father, absolutely. A loyal son, brother, and friend, too. And now, to the surprise of no one who knows him, the most fun, most loving Grandpa ever.
But the best thing our Dad ever did for his children was to love and celebrate and respect and care for and admire... our Mom. His devotion to her made him the best Dad to us. It made him simultaneously strong and vulnerable. And we’ve been fortunate to witness it every minute of every day as long as we’ve lived. That glorious example of unconditional love — going strong after more than 50 years! — is the foundation of our lives.
I know we’re tremendously lucky. I know not everyone has our kind of Dad. I know some Dads weren’t always there or weren’t always kind. I know some didn’t even stick around. But I also acknowledge the many who are caring for and loving and raising children who don’t share their blood. And oh, do we celebrate those Dads.
I’m also thinking about those whose hearts ache for the Dad who is no longer with them. For the ones who never felt a father’s love. For the men who so desperately want to be Dads, but are struggling to make it happen. For the Moms who stepped up to be both parents.
And I pray mightily for that fraternity of Dads to which no one should belong. The ones who have loved and lost a child.
This Father’s Day, I’m giving thanks for our Dad. Wishing him all the Diet Coke, fried chicken, MASH reruns with Mom, grandkid kisses and cat naps he can handle.
He is our hero. Our very best human. Thank you, Daddy. For everything.
**I would love to hear your tributes to your Dad— or to someone who was like a Dad to you. Or your funny Dad stories. Or stories from Dads about being a Dad. Please feel free to share in the comments below. Love to all.