The Gift of a Father

Today I am glad I can be here in my hometown to spend Father's Day with my dad.

He's faced significant health challenges in the past few years and I am thankful I get another Father's Day to tell him thank you for always supporting me. Sitting with my dad in the hospital has given me a lot of time to reflect - I feel like that is God's gift to me.

The more years I live on this earth the more I realize we are ALL flawed. Accepting people for who they are is an ongoing goal for me! I certainly gave my dad a lot of gray hair, and he was always there for me when I needed him. 

I love this picture of my dad and me -- I think he was imparting some last bit of wisdom (or more likely asking me if everything was set for the reception!) before he walked me down the aisle.  I was the last of 4 children to be married. I imagine this day signified the end of a 40 year era of raising children for my dad. 

But really... he didn't stop raising me once I was married.

Ever since this picture was taken - 19 years ago - he's still been raising me.  {wink}

My Dad and Me

My dad has always affectionately referred to me as "the caboose" - I was quite a surprise to him at the age of 42! 

I can still see him cheering me on at swim meets -- my event record time book in his shirt pocket. He somehow would always manage to motivate me to swim just a little faster each time. If memory serves me correct he was given a special gift by the high school boys' swim team because he was a honorary dad/cheerleader to all of them.

(I learned just a few years ago that my dad learned to swim in a rock quarry during the Depression. As he was swimming with his grandkids at the age of 80 he told me how it gave him so much joy to watch them swimming in his pool.)

When I backed into his car at the age of 16 (while driving my mother's car) he was of course angry, but I remember not getting killed over that incident! He also somehow put up with my first semester freshman college year shenanigans (hello 1.7 GPA!) and gave me a second chance to pull my grades up before he "parked my butt at home!".

That tough love helped me become a confident, self sufficient adult. (While my dad got very close to graduating from college, he never finished, but he went on to have a successful career as a highway engineer. College was a big deal for him and he is so proud of all of his kids -- all four of us have college degrees, masters degrees, and more!)

When I was in college he drove my car from Florida to SMU - that was a LONG drive - while I flew back to school on the return trip of my plane ticket. He strapped my favorite stuffed monkey in the front seat and drove through the night to have my car there for me. He had packed the trunk so precisely (that engineer coming out) and used every available inch of space. He left to fly back home to Naples and I couldn't find any of my SHOES. He had packed them in the wheel well and had forgotten to tell me!

He has always been supportive of my dreams. Another mom at SMU (on move in day) asked me what I was majoring in -- when I replied "music" she asked my dad how he felt about paying "all that money for just a music degree". My dad's response to her? "I know it's going to be a great investment."

(I agree. It was a great investment, dad.)

When I would bring college friends home for spring break he would make sure everyone had their favorite foods on hand, and would make us all hamburgers and malts. All of my girlfriends loved him because he would tease and joke so much with them. 

I was on the phone with him when the second tower fell on 9/11 - my 2 month old in my arms. I remember my dad saying, "Our world is never going to be the same again."

And he was right. 

When I told him we were going to homeschool his exact words to me were, "Now what in the world are you and Hal thinking?" Guess who brags to everyone about his homeschooled grandkids now? That's right - my dad. He's our biggest homeschool supporter. 

He once told me that when he was a little boy (he was born in 1930) that he thought it would be a miracle if he lived to see the year 2000 and that each year after has been a bonus for him. He's seen a lot in his life and I can learn so much from him. That is not a gift I take lightly. 

As I flew to Florida a few days ago I was recalling the numerous times as an adult when I would call home (and there were several!) needing help from my parents. Whether it was the birth of a baby, a surgery, moving to a new house, or one time when I had a horrible struggle with depression --- my dad was always quick to jump into action, hop into the car and drive 12 hours with my mom to come to my aid. 

Now it's my turn to come to HIS aid and it is an honor to give back to someone who sacrificed so much (emotionally and financially) for me for so many years. 

If you have a dad, I hope you get a chance to tell him you love him this weekend. And, if Father's Day is a painful day for you, please know I'm praying for you.

I don't take the gift of my father lightly.