I’m so glad that you gave me an empty photo frame for my birthday and that you requested I put a photo of you and I in it. I knew which one of us I wanted to put in it. It’s my favorite picture of us and one of my very favorite ones from my wedding.
The copy that I already had printed out wasn’t quite as big as the frame opening, so I searched for some nice scrapbooking paper to put as the backing. I lined it up and put it in the frame and as I turned the frame back around to admire it, I noticed that something special lined the photo of my loving father looking adoringly at me, his youngest daughter, on my wedding day. Above the photo were the words, “make the hard times worth enduring” and below the photo, “so many of our priceless memories”.
I thought of how fitting these two phrases are for our relationship. How you have always been that loving, compassionate and supportive daddy that so many little girls long for. That not everyone is blessed with having.
I thought of the immediate aftermath of the demise of my first marriage and how you welcomed me back into your home with open arms after having been moved out for 3 years. How supportive and loving you were in my life at that moment, when the only other man I had loved and relied on was suddenly gone. How you showed me that you were there to protect me. I remember that first Valentine’s Day after my divorce. It was only a few months after and I was living back at your home. I came home from work that day to find a Valentine’s Day card and chocolate from you on my pillow. You wanted me to know how loved and special I was and you were quick to fill that void in my life.
You helped me pick up the pieces in my life again and you were always there to just talk with me. I remember that during those two years that I lived at home again, my relationship with you and mom changed from a parent/child relationship to more of a friendship. I remember very much enjoying living with my “new roommates” and loved hanging out with you guys night after night.
Thank you for always being there in full support of me and helping me in every way that you could think of. Thank you for your bear hugs and for always letting me crawl up in your lap to lay my head on your chest, even though I was 21. Thank you for loving me tremendously and being such a good example of how our Father loves us. I get a really good idea of His love for us when I look at you and your love for not only me, but for everyone you encounter. Thank you for encouraging me and holding me up when I wanted to collapse and fall into bed and never get out.
You helped me endure through the hardest time in my life.
Looking at the photo and the paper behind it, I’m pretty sure the saying goes “So many of our priceless memories make the hard times worth enduring.” For a minute, I thought about taking the photo out and adjusting it so that it would read correctly when you looked at our photo. But I think the way that it happened is more fitting. “Make the hard times worth enduring”, followed by a sweet, sweet photo of you and I on my wedding day to Skyler, followed by “so many of our priceless memories”. Nope, I’m not going to adjust it. It’s perfect just the way it is. It’s more accurate in the manner that it currently is.
I’m so so thankful for you, dad. For your friendship and your wisdom.
I’ve recently told Skyler a few times, “whenever my dad passes away, I’m going to just be a big ol’ mess!” It’s not something I want to think about, but something I try to keep in mind so that I never take for granted the time that I have left with you.
I think about my childhood and my precious and priceless memories of you.
When I was 2 years old sitting on the potty and you couldn’t wait until I was off the toilet even to give me a birthday balloon. And I still have that balloon, 25 years later.
When I was 3 years old and you taught me how to ride my bike without training wheels, on the same day you taught Jeremy. You were such a good teacher.
I don’t remember how old I was, but I remember when you built us a miniature golf course in our backyard. Just because you wanted to.
All the times we went camping when I was growing up and I never had a fear in the world because I knew my daddy was there. I don’t tell Skyler this, but I am not as fearless camping with him as I was with you. You were my daddy and you would protect me from anything.
When I was in 3rd grade, I had to make a diarama of a forest. You helped me create the trees and shrubs and we even made a creek with real rocks and glue poured over top to look like water flowing over them. Thank you for spending time with me and helping me pursue my creativity.
For all the basketball games, track meets and cross country meets that you came to and cheered me on: thank you. And for all the many trips to and from practices.
When I was 12 and you took the family to Disneyworld, I thought you were the COOLEST dad ever. You even went on rollercoasters with us and had fun.
I remember being 14 when you came to me and told me that I wasn’t going to be allowed to date until I was 16. I remember being mad at you then. But now I’m so thankful. Thank you for saving me from the unnecessary heartache of early teenage dating.
All the times when I lived out of your house but you still came over to fix any house problems or teach me something new about the house, I have been incredibly thankful for you taking the time for me. I know you have your own house to take care of.
Now, all the times you play with, cuddle, take care of and love on my boys. It is the most enjoyable thing to watch. They sure love their “Bopa”.
Dad, I wish there was an easy way to “download” all of the wisdom and knowledge you have about life. Not just about how to fix anything that is broken (because you really can fix anything!) or make treasure out of trash, though those are valuable traits that I do want to keep learning from you. I want to learn how to love people like you do. How to have compassion for everyone, even those who I don’t think deserve it. How to say “yes” to helping others and serving them, more often than you say “no”. How to truly be joyful in life on a daily basis.
I know I will never gain all your wisdom from you before you pass on to the better life. There’s just too much. But thank you for always being willing to spend time with me and always teaching me.
I just couldn’t have been blessed by a greater dad than you. You are loved and cherished and celebrated, especially today, on your birthday. So thankful that you were born. And that you wanted three children and I was born. 🙂
Love you dad. You’re so much more than just a hero.
Your Cuddle Bug