A humble salute to my favorite Super Hero: Dad. He's a wage earner, roof-provider, respectful papa, and all-around great guy. How do you say in a few words that do justice for all the years of awesome-ness? It is my hope that the real tribute will be the action of my (our) lives—that I am a testament to the love and lessons he instilled in me.
My father knows priorities. He knows love. I experienced what unconditional love really looks like. Love that just says, “I love you…and that is all.” Sure, he had nods of disapproval, but mostly I really knew that I was valued and free to be me.
He's the kind of man who looks like he's keeping a really big secret, and will never tell. I remember many scenes of him just smiling at me. No words to mess it up. A quiet, loving over me and holding my hand which assured me that I was his precious little girl. His affection was an understood knowingness. I do not believe that he did anything because he felt he “should” as being a good parent. He is the most authentic, real guy I've ever known. No hidden agendas. I really appreciate that about him.
He gave us his time. Always finding ways to connect—even during the sometimes challenging teenage years. Back then, I didn't fully understand the importance of our special times together. Just before embarking to college, he took me along for two unforgettable 500-mile bicycle tours on the scenic back roads of rural Indiana. During those days, I learned much about my private father. I learned about his genuine appreciation for other people, his surprising optimism, and his dedication to me. During the most grueling parts of the ride, he never gave up on me. He encouraged me. He instilled in me a spirit of perseverance and hard work to reach a goal. Some days were a physically demanding stretch for me, and we worked together as a team. Most days, he drafted me. I came to realize that my dad was steering the bike right along side me. Our bike rides provided many metaphors. I followed his lead with just giving a little bit of my physical strength to his guidance and good leadership. All I could do was pedal as hard as I could with him cheering me on.
He is sentimental. He taught me the art form of a note bomb: a few words quickly jotted down and secretly placed in an unsuspecting location. A way to zap the recipient with a dose of love. “Good morning, Sunshine.” Or, “Hi, little girl.”
My Dad was not of a generation that talked a lot about feelings. My father stayed close in my heart through years of writing thoughtful and art-filled letters in an exchange of updates on day to day activity and the weather. Over the years, the comfort of his penmanship and beautifully decorated letters and envelopes meant the world to me. I had a lifelong pen-pal.
He is a true artist with a master's degree. My dad did not draw, sketch, or paint for anyone, but instead for his own creative expression. He is the greatest artist I've ever known. He sketched while he drove. He is a memory maker and photo hoarder. Back then, there was a camera around his neck, behind his car seat, or in his shirt pocket. I'm blessed to visually reflect on my entire life in pictures.
Thanks to you, Dad. I've found my way. You taught me how to be conscious, how to reflect and think, make decisions, and how to act well. Though miles apart, you have always been loving, predictable, and believed in me. I may have outgrown your lap, but I never outgrew your heart.
Happy Father's Day 2013!
Your Little Girl – Jessica
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