Every afternoon around 5 p.m. I listened for him. The engine of his gold Chevy truck grumbled as he cut it off and parked it perfectly by the curb. I waited for him to enter the house and delighted in the fact that my Daddy was home, safe with us again.
Mom’s delicious supper was baking or simmering as he sat in the little chair by the wall and took off his work shoes. As I climbed in his lap he would say, “come here Big E, and give me some ‘shouggy'” (meaning sugar). I gave him one peck on the cheek as his sideburn whiskers brushed lightly against my face. I inhaled the scent of his familiar aftershave, hugged him and went on my merry way.
And then I was complete again. The man that was everything to me was back where he was supposed to be. He was my safety and my stronghold. He held all things together.
When I was little he teased me about sucking my thumb and biting my nails. But never in a mean way. When I was older he helped me with Algebra and Geometry. Sometimes I cried because it came easy to him but not to me. He persevered. He never gave up on me.
He mowed the lawn and changed the oil in the cars.
He built and remade furniture. (a cabinet for my 30th birthday)
He took me out on the lake to water ski and just to ride and feel the wind in my hair.
He coached my soccer team.
He danced with me at wedding receptions, including my own.
He instilled in me both love and safe respect for the ocean.
He always made sure my bike tires had air.
He came to every dance, piano and voice recital, EVERY choice performance.
He gave me the name I carried as my last one for 24 years and a heritage rich in history and food.
He has visited me in every place I have ever lived away from him, many times.
He helped me move to most of those places.
He prayed with us at church every Sunday and knelt at the foot of his bed every evening to pray with his God.
He honored his mother and father always, while here and even when gone from this world.
He worked hard for us, for so many years.
He partnered with my mother and has always been true to her.
He drove us across the country many times to see things I never would have seen otherwise.
He made me laugh with his silly jokes and stories.
He loved us all fiercely, even when we may have disappointed him.
He accepted every ugly tie and joking fishing card, for both birthdays and Father’s Days.
He still does. All these things, he still does.
This man. This father. This person who I am so blessed to call “Dad”.
This example of love and support and strength. I am so thankful for all of it.
I know not everyone has this experience with their father. I personally cannot imagine it any other way. He has given all of his children such a gift. And his grandchildren too.
All he has ever done is lifted me up and given me love, treated me with mutual respect. Have we argued? Sure, but we still came out united in some way. I am his only daughter and he was my first hero. My first example of how a man should live his life and treat others. Is he perfect? Nope. But as we all know, no one is.
In my view, my father is the standard by which all men should live and raise their children (if they have them).
I love you Dad, so much. Thank you for EVERYthing.