One of the true marks of a great dad is giving your children the freedom to pursue their dreams no matter what. I know my sisters and I have made my dad proud on that front, but I suppose the downside is when those dreams take you to other cities, other states. When these holidays come up and we're scattered in different places I can't help but wonder why we're apart when we love being together so much. But then I remember that my father never set any limits on us. He never told us we couldn't achieve something and he never discouraged a dream, even if it meant a whole lot of unknowns.
I've been thinking about my dad this morning and two specific memories come to mind today: the first one is from my 16th birthday. My dad has always been a hard worker; I grew up watching him work with his hands, building an upholstery business and working long hours as necessary but never missing a softball game, a gymnastics meet, a recital. We weren't rich but we never went without, and he made sure that on our 16th birthdays, all his daughters had cars waiting in the driveway.
Being the oldest, I wasn't sure what to expect, but I certainly didn't think I'd be the kid driving her own car to school the day after her birthday. Looking back on the photos of my party, I was really (cringe) killing that early 2000's look: braces, Doc Martins, and a random stuffed animal in my arms, they sent me on a scavenger hunt. At the end I found my treasure, a '93 gold Acura Legend with a sunroof and brand new leather seats by the man himself.
I was ecstatic and completely surprised, but it's the next morning that I remember most. I could hardly sleep, I was so excited to have MY OWN CAR. I woke up before anyone else and walked outside just to look at it. A few minutes later, my dad found me sitting at the wheel in my pj's, got in, and said those golden words, "Let's go to McDonalds." *The Saturday morning of my dreams.*
Fast forward a few years later, I had a big decision to make:
1. Go to a college in Texas where I'd been given a scholarship to study classical voice
2. Go to a college in Nashville without a scholarship to study music business
Close and cheap vs. far and expensive. Seems like a no brainer if you're a responsible and practical human, but it was the hardest decision of 18 years of life. It got to the point where I had less than 24 hours to decide and I was stuck. I remember it was a Wednesday night and rather than try to force a decision out of me or give me his best advice, my dad said, "Let's go to church." I've never forgotten that. And now, when I'm faced with difficult decisions, I know where to look. I came home with a decision and no doubt in my mind about it. My dad reminded me where my peace and guidance really comes from, in a moment where honestly, he could have easily swayed me one way or another.
A few months later, he drove me to Nashville, took a selfie on a disposable camera with me in my dorm before selfies were a thing, and boarded a flight home. It was our first goodbye.
I could write on and on about my dad. Like the time my passport was stuck in New Orleans and we were supposed to board a flight to Africa in two days. Within an hour of tracking down my passport we were in my car, driving through the night and back from Fort Worth. Or the time he took me to a DC Talk concert and made my life, or when he greeted my future husband with a tramp stamp that said, "let's go down unda," or the daddy-daughter dates when he always bought me a new CD, or how I can still remember what it felt like to fall asleep on his lap. It's true, a girl's father is her first love.
Dad, I can imagine how scary it must be, when you realize you're going to be a father, suddenly responsible for providing, teaching, and loving these little humans. If I could go back in time, I'd find you on the day when mom said I was coming and I'd tell you how amazing you're going to be, how "father" is a role you're born to play, and how no matter what comes these next 30-odd years, you'll never lose your sense of wonder or fun. In fact, it's a part of what will make you such a great dad.
I love you forever, daddy. Happy Father's Day! xoxo, your girl