Where has the time gone, Daddy? Just yesterday, you were swinging me around in circles, in the gymnasium of our church. You were buying me toys from my favorite aisle at the grocery store. Giving me the plane ticket stubs I liked to collect from your business trips. Now my youngest child is older than I was then; in the blink of an eye.
This may surprise you, but when I was young, I was a little afraid of you. I think that’s common for little girls. I’m not sure why, as you never really did anything to cause that fear. Maybe it was the build up that all moms create when they say, “Wait until your father gets home!” Honestly, I don’t remember that ever being said, or what I would have done to cause it, but I’m sure there were plenty of times. I remember in my teen years, when my mouth got ahead of my brain. Those times when your face got bright red in frustration. Your eyes got wide, and you stiffened your body; the “you might want to run” look. But it was never worse than a booming-voiced reprimand, and rare at that.
On the flip side, I have always felt very protective of you. You have always been a quiet man. I think I’ve worried that you would get hurt by someone or something, and keep your feelings bottled inside. My heart would hurt for you, when I felt you had been wronged. When I was the cause of the hurt, the guilt was overwhelming. When Bill and I forgot to do the father-daughter dance at our wedding. When I left to move to South Carolina, not long after that fight we had. It wasn’t because of you. I needed to start my life away from home. I’m sorry I used that as an excuse. To this day, it wears heavy on my conscience. I never want to hurt you. I will always look out for you. No one messes with my dad and gets away with it.
I remember when you had that chest pain scare, and spent several days in the hospital. I was so relieved when we found out it was nothing serious. You were hardly ever sick when I was growing up, and that event happened so long ago, that when you had the stroke last year, it was terrifying. You are my invincible dad. We have never really had to worry about your health. I can’t believe how long I have taken you for granted.
I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to spend some quality time with you in the last few years. Why does it take so long for us to realize that we have never really asked our parent about their childhood? Why we have never delved farther than the basic family stories? I’m so happy that you have been able to share those memories with me. I love learning more about you, and your life before marriage and children. You had a daring side I would have never imagined. It makes me smile when I think about it.
Spending five weeks with you last fall was a gift from God. Second chances, and reminders, that our time together is precious, and unfortunately, limited. I am very thankful for those quiet, peaceful times where it’s just you and I, even though it has not been under the best circumstances, like your stroke, and mom’s surgeries. Everything happens for a reason, I guess. Sometimes good things come out of bad situations.
I feel blessed to have been able to create new memories with you. Our morning walks. Learning about the desert fauna and flora from you. In-and-Out Burger. It will forever be the restaurant that you introduced me to. It will forever remind me of you. I loved our lunchtime field trips when mom was in the hospital. When we would leave her to take a nap, while we got a bite to eat, and a few hours at a local museum, zoo, or garden. Just you and I, and some great memories.
Thank you, Dad, for all that you have done for me. For helping to mold me into the person I am today. For always making sure I had a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and food in my belly. For teaching me right from wrong, responsibility, and to always try my hardest. For loving me, and teaching me what love means.
Happy Father’s Day. I’m so lucky that you are my dad. I love you more than words can say. Don’t ever forget that. You mean the world to me.