When I was growing up, my dad was always around to support my sister and me. I can’t think of a single ball game, piano recital, spelling bee, band concert, or award ceremony that he missed, ever. I always took that for granted, his presence. I distinctly remember those hot summer nights in Mesa Arizona, standing with my hands on my knees on a dusty softball field, dying of boredom and praying a ball would come to me just to end the monotony (softball is a slow game until it’s your turn to bat, but that only happens a couple of times per game; the rest is freaking drudgery). My mom was the loudest cheerer, always, but every now and then I would look into the crowd and pick them out, my parents, together. He was always there. It never occurred to me that some kids’ dads couldn’t, or wouldn’t show up for that kind of thing. Even as recently as last summer, when I got to go to Salt Lake and present at a book signing and conference for Fresh Courage Take, he made the effort with my mom to be there and cheer me on; they flew from Phoenix for it. And when I had to present at the book signing but didn’t have childcare for Hutch, instead of sitting for the presentation like he originally planned, he took my almost-two year old to the park so I could present without worrying.
Now that I’m a grown up myself (how the hell did that happen?!) I find myself on the brink of becoming that parent for my own children. And I have never for a moment considered not being that kind of parent for my children, the way mine were for me.
Although we didn’t always see eye to eye when I was growing up, the thing I love most about my dad is that he was always there anyway. And he always loved me anyway.
It took becoming a parent myself to understand what a big deal that is.
I love you, Dad. Happy Birthday!