Today is Father’s Day, and like many other holidays I wish I was able to be with you, and I feel a twinge of guilt for living so far away. I woke up this morning thinking about our relationship over the last 28 years and how it’s evolved, had ups and downs and is often taken for granted. I may talk to Mom everyday, and I definitely inherited her shopping gene and her tendency to worry about everything, but I see pieces of you in my actions and choices everyday.
As a little girl as I was happiest being by your side. I loved being “Daddy’s little girl” and was even happier when you once called me “your only son”. I wanted to be just like you. One of my favorite memories is going to and from basketball practice and games with just you. We would stop at the 7/11 to pick up beef jerky and Gatorade, and you would tell me how I was the fastest kid on the team. On the way to games we would often have breakfast together at McDonald’s and I felt so cool to have that alone time with you. We weren’t like Mom or Sister; we were tougher, stronger and wittier. We liked to workout, play hard, be outside and be on the water. I was always SO disappointed that I couldn’t go hunting with you, but now I am so thankful you never let me. Shooting Bambi would have scarred me for life, and you obviously knew that.
I grew up to be much “girlier” than my days as a tomboy, but thanks to all my time with you I still know how to kick off my shoes, bait a hook, shoot a gun, drive a four-wheeler, change my oil and my tire, life weights, skin a fish and drive a truck. I just have better hair and painted nails while I do it.
Besides all of the wonderful “southern gal” skills you taught me, there is so much more. I know that my compassion to help others comes from you. I’ve seen you go out of your way to give someone a hand, spend time with a lonely family member and even support my best friends. When I was in high school I had a few friends who often needed a place to crash for a weekend, and sometimes a few weeks. Not only did you let them stay with us, but you loved them like your own daughters. You expected them home by curfew, and you treated their boyfriends like mine…by often scarring the sh*t out of them if they attempted a move on your turf.
I know that I got my work ethic from you as well. There is not a time in my memory where you were not working hard. I remember you coming home in you nomex and heavy work boots, covered in sweat in the Texas heat, and then spending your weekend taking care of the house, remodeling rooms, mowing the grass and fixing every broken toy and tangled necklace I brought you. Numerous times, you reminded me of the importance of hard work. You expected me to make good grades, work hard, be respectful of my teachers and bosses and to do work that I will be proud of. Although, what really mattered is that you were proud of me.
The words that touch me the most are these, “I’m proud of you Hil”. Hearing that phrase after graduations, dance recitals, basketball games, career accomplishments and my wedding day was the poof I needed to know that I did well. This phrase is never tossed around lightly. I never hear it for doing frivolous activities or expected chores. No, you say it when you mean it most, so I know it’s true.
Every child thinks their Dad is the bravest. I know I thought you were. You weren’t afraid of the dark, the monsters in my closet, the bugs outside or climbing ladders. Now, as an adult. I am positive that you are the bravest. I have seen you stand up for yourself and for others, watch both your daughters move away and start their own families and look cancer in the eye (more than once) without fear. (However, I now know that you are a little afraid of bugs.) I don’t know how you do it Dad. You have been through trials that would tear me to pieces and break me down, but you always seem to come out stronger on the other side.
You may be watching me grow over the years, but I’ve seen you grow as well. Each year you become wiser, more sensitive, more spiritual and definitely more handsome. I’ve also seen you be promoted from Dad to Grandpa with Micah. The most proud I have ever seen you is with your Grandson, he’s one lucky little guy. I cannot wait to one day see you with my children.
Thank you for teaching me to be thoughtful, hard-working, respectful, appreciative, strong and brave.
Happy Father’s Day Dad, love you most.