Sunday, June 21, 2009

You All Think You Have The Best Dad, But I *Know* I Do

Today I will make the hand off. I will meet my parents half way between our house and theirs and give them the care of my three oldest children for the next 5 days. I am excited about this for a number of reasons, no the least of which is entertaining the possibility of getting some things done around here. Do you have any idea how much time I will have on my hands with only one child? The amount is multiplied exponentially in correlation to the number of children that will be gone. I believe the proper term for the amount of time I will find myself with is "oodles."

But! Today is also Father's Day and I will have the opportunity to see my own father. This doesn't happen very often. I always call and send a gift and card, but today I get to hug my daddy and tell him in person what an awesome man he is. I have many reasons to love my daddy, and in case I forget to tell him in person, because after all, the hand off will only take a few minutes, I want to share some of the reasons I love him here.

I love my dad because he has always seen me as a more beautiful person than I really am. He looks at my outside and calls me beautiful. No matter how much weight I gain (or lose), no matter how many gray hairs I get, no matter that it looks like the crows have been stomping around my eyes, he has always made me feel beautiful. Even when he called me "bird legs" as a newborn, he thought I was beautiful. But my daddy also thinks I'm beautiful inside. He sees the things that I do and the way I'm wired, and he loves me anyway. He thinks (and my mother has tried to correct him, lo these many years) that I am smarter, kinder, and lovelier than any other girl. (With the exception of my mother.) He has told me so. And those words have meant so much, because they set the bar high for any boyfriend I ever had. I knew how the opposite sex should treat me, because of the way my dad treated me. And I was fortunate to marry a man very much like my father; a man who thinks I'm beautiful inside and out and tells me so. Thanks for that lesson, Dad.

My dad is an outstanding craftsman. The best pieces of furniture in my home were built by my father. When people learn that my dad built a particular piece, their reaction is always the same: their mouths pop open and they'll exclaim something along the lines of "Your dad built that?! That is amazing!" He has never told me "no" when I've asked him to build me something. He's made me stacking bookshelves, a beautiful curio cabinet with a leaded glass window from my parents' house serving as the door, several picture frames, a loft, a bunk bed, two jewelry boxes, and a cradle that all the grandchildren slept in as infants. I'm sure I'm forgetting things too. He has spent countless hours in his basement workshop, building things for me. He has shared his amazing talent freely and filled everything he's made with love.

He's also a hard worker. In his 70's now, dad isn't content to sit around when he comes to visit. Often, he does small tasks like hanging pictures, fixing broken blinds, or mounting curtain rods. These are things my husband hates to do, so they get knocked down to the bottom of his To Do list. My dad has always been helpful in picking up that slack. Some of the tasks are not so small, like helping my husband lay hardwood floor in our foyer, kitchen, dining room, and powder room. This is a job that took several days, but without my dad's willing help, I can pretty much guarantee it would have taken several weeks to finish.

My dad has a great sense of humor. He's always been good for a laugh, even if some of his jokes are punny. He laughs a lot and has a quick wit. He taught me and my brothers how to squish pudding between our teeth--not something you would put on your resume, but a definite skill to have to amuse your friends. My dad also played along in the Gross Out Mom game. Sometimes he was the instigator. This game was usually played around the dinner table, but the beauty of it was that it could be played anywhere. Often this game involved the words "boogers" and "snot." We are a Klassy Family, y'all. He was also the referee in this game and if he sensed that we were sending my mother over the edge, he stopped us. Great times...

Daddy was a Director of Special Education for many years. He was a champion for exceptional children, making sure that needs were met and students were taught. He believed (and still does) that everyone had worth and could learn and was valuable to their community. His compassion for the "underdog" was a great example when I was growing up.

My dad is an excellent teacher--whether it's Sunday school, how to bait a hook, using a tool, or helping his daughter with fractions. He is passionate and understanding and creative.

I have appreciated the way my dad has always encouraged me. In his own quiet way, my dad has let me know that he's on my side, no matter what. I have always known that my dad was in my corner. Even when I got into trouble, I knew that my dad had my back. He'd let me know that he was angry and I certainly had consequences, but I always knew that there was nothing I could do, no trouble big enough that my daddy wouldn't be there for me and love me.

I love watching the relationship my dad has with his grandchildren. They love their Papa. He plays with them. He fishes with them. He does projects with them in his workshop. They know that when "the moose is loose" they'd better watch out, because tickling is close at hand. They know that my dad is good for donuts, ice cream, and cookies. (This hasn't changed since I was a kid. I always loved grocery shopping with my dad, because he never stuck to the list.) They know that Papa will tease them, tickle them, wrestle a little and give them a hard time about boy/girlfriends. They all feel special around him. They all feel loved.

I am thankful that my dad knows and loves Jesus. I am grateful for the times he made me go to church, even when I didn't want to. I am blessed by his teachings about Christ. I am blessed by the example he has been of Christian love and service. I am so thankful for his example of a solid, Christ-centered marriage. He has loved and been married to my mother for over 50 years. In that time he has been a role-model for his sons and daughter, his son and daughters-in-law and his grandchildren for how a husband should treat his wife and how a father should treat his children. (Well, maybe not the Gross Out Mom game...) He has given me a glimpse of what my Heavenly Father is like, because although my dad is not perfect and has made mistakes, he has loved me as wholly and as wonderfully as anyone ever has.

Thank you, Daddy for being such a wonderful Earthly father. I love you loads and loads! Happy Father's Day!

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