All of my life my dad has been my hero. He was always there for me growing up and is still here for me now that I’m an adult. The strength and stability I always felt being in my Daddy’s arms can not possibly be measured. He would carry me on his shoulders when my legs were tired. He could do the best cannonball into the pool out of all the dads. When I was in trouble, he could put the fear of God into me with just a look. And when he’d jokingly ask me “What am I going to do with you???,” I’d say, “Just keep me and love me,” which he still does.
And over the past year, he has fought cancer by having a stem cell transplant and will continue treatments for many years to come. He has always been strong – not only physically, but mentally – he’s a judge as well as retired military. (Yes, my upbringing was a little strict!)
Knowing that the next few years are going to have their ups and downs, there are some things I want him to know to help keep his spirits up. So this is for my Dad…
I want to thank you for being so strict with me when I was a teenager. I used to think you were the meanest dad EVER for giving me a curfew of 10 p.m., but now that I am a parent, I realize that what you always said is true: “Nothing but trouble happens to a teenager after midnight.”
Thank you for letting me be Daddy’s little girl, but also Daddy’s little tomboy. Thank you for making sure I could take ballet and sewing classes, but I’m sure at some point you wished you had a son. I was as close to it as you got. I love going camping and doing everything outdoors because of you. You encouraged me to go outside and play so I never was really interested that much in TV -except for “The Donny Osmond Show” of course.
Thank you for insisting on meeting my (and Cathy’s) boyfriends, and giving them the kind of handshake that could break their hand and letting them know they were in for it if anything happened to me. Thank you for telling me straight off which boyfriends you liked, and which ones you clearly DID NOT. Looking back on several of my dating mistakes, I realize you did know what was best for me after all…if only I had listened!!!
Thank you for teaching me how to drive a stick-shift. Learning how to drive an “H” shift was pretty tough on the old F150, especially since it didn’t have power steering or power brakes, but I think it is something every girl should know how to do.
Thank you for teaching me manners. I have come to realize that “Yes ma’am” and “Yes sir” were not only polite when I was younger, but beneficial to me as an adult. These are traits I have passed on to Matthew as well and he, too, has seen how people react when they are treated with respect.
Thank you for loving me enough to give me boundaries. Although I didn’t get in too much trouble (because I was terrified of getting in trouble with you), I know I was not the easiest teenager to bring up. I got your stubbornness so I’m sure you saw some of yourself in me! And even though I never wanted to hear it, I thank you for loving me enough to tell me “NO” some times.
Thank you for teaching me to be financially responsible and hiding my first credit card from me when it came in the mail. You taught me that if I can’t buy it with cash, then I don’t need it. This is a lesson many never learn until later in life. You taught me that just because my friends may have new cars, big houses and go on luxurious trips, they are also probably swimming in debt. Because of you, our only payment each month is for our house, and if we don’t have the cash for other things that we want, then we save up for them.
Thank you for teaching me how to stand up for myself. As a single mom for almost 10 years, I had to handle things that can be foreign to many women, such as getting work done on my car. If you hadn’t taught me how to watch when someone was about to screw me over, I would have probably would have been financially taken advantage of numerous times.
Thank you for showing me what true love is. After 52 years of marriage (and counting!) you and Mama have shown me that marriages have good times and bad times, but you stick with each other and are there for each other no matter what. Watching you reach over and grab Mama’s hand just while driving in the car makes me smile.
Thank you for teaching me to treat everyone with the same respect. The circle of friends you have surrounded yourself with come from every race, gender, and sexual orientation and EACH ONE of those friends considers you to be a very good friend to them. What an amazing example you lead!
Thank you for teaching me right and wrong. Even when Mom got a speeding ticket in a different city, you never even considered contacting the other judge to get it erased. Instead you told her that since she was in fact speeding, that she needed to pay the $250 fine. I respected that so much more than you will ever know. So many others in your position would have “called in a favor” but you didn’t – and I love that about you.
Thank you for trusting me when I announced ‘I’m getting married!!!” only four weeks after meeting Dale. Although I’m sure you ran a background check on him, you still trusted me enough to officiate our wedding ceremony. To this day, that memory makes me smile. And thank you for setting the kind of example a good husband is. When I first met Dale, I was amazed at how many similarities the two of you share and I knew immediately that if he was anything like you, I had a keeper.
I hope you are proud of me for what I have accomplished in my life. Everything I have in my life, in some way or another points back to you. Your guidance has led me to where I am and who I am today.
And although we know the next couple of years are going to be both good and tough, please know that I plan on taking care of you and Mama as you have ALWAYS taken care of me. Cathy and I will be the strong ones for you this time.
I’m all grown up now, but I am and always will be, Daddy’s little girl.
Let me carry you on my shoulders now.
Love, love, love this post! I too picked a man – just like my Daddy! 🙂
It took me forever to find Dale but he is just like my dad too. And worth the wait! 🙂
I love the old pics! Great post.
Thanks so much Gwen. My mom gave me a cd with all of our old pictures several years ago. One of my prized possessions!
I’m sorry that your Daddy is fighting cancer, but I’m glad you have this chance to put your thoughts In writing and share them with him. I lost my father suddenly and had to do this in the form of a eulogy. This way is better.
I have realized how fortunate we are that he is here and I have the time to tell him these things. I’m so sorry for your loss!!!
Very, very sweet.
I’m glad you liked it! Just wait until I write about you. Haha
Dana, I read what you wrote and it is so sweet and tender. It really touched my heart because I too was very close to my dad. Thanks for being there for your Mom and Dad.
Thank you Pat! Thank you for loving them too! 🙂
How utterly beautiful your letter is to your Daddy! My heart is very sad about his medical issue, but I am happy that he and your Mom have been blest with fantastic daughters!! Guess that 10pm curfew paid off!! 🙂 Thank you for sharing the letter with others. Maybe it will inspire others to build a better relationship with their parents. You have quite a God-given talent for writing. I look forward to reading more. Have you considered writing a book?? I will line up at Barnes & Noble for my signed copy!!! Thanks once again for sharing your feelings….
Thank you Mary Sue! My husband has been encouraging me to write a book, which I am in the process of doing. I love writing but it makes it even more fun when I find out that people like what they’re reading! 🙂 I sincerely appreciate your kind words!
Your daddy just asked me to write that he loves you.
I know he does. 🙂