I am a big ole Daddy's Girl and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Always have been and always will be. He is my hero; larger than life to me and still what I want to be when I grow up. He was my first love and has set a very high standard for every man that has followed. He's a charmer always quick with a smile and even quicker with words of wisdom worthy of his 70 plus years.
That's not to say that I don't recognize his weaknesses as well. He is certainly not the emotional sort - his mother died when he was a little boy. He and his younger brother were raised by their father until he remarried when my father was in college. So Daddy is not familiar with the emotions of a women, they seem to baffle him more than most but that never stopped him from loving my mother, older sister and myself as hard and deep as anyone could imagine.
Daddy is large in size - standing close to 6'4 and tipping the scales at 230 but he he is larger in spirit. He provided well for his family, exposing us to as much as possible without spoiling us. He pushed his daughters hard but never failed to express the importance of enjoying our success. He ruled the house with unquestionable strength and unshakeable focus. He never seemed uncertain of anything. His belief in his family was unwavering and I treasure that most. We were his priority, his reason for doing all that he did. He taught us that character and upholding your word meant more than the amount of money you made or accolades that you garnered. He showed up how to live life without regrets by taking calculated risks throughout his. And he showed us what it really meant to be a husband and a father.
We ate dinner together every night, went on family vacations three times a year and spent quality time together more than most. Even with all of the good times and fond recollections, there are two memories that for me, make up my father.
My fondest memory is going to to my father's softball league games - the crack of the bat, the muffled sound of the ball hitting the glove, the laughter, cheers and good-natured bickering all set to the backdrop of the smell and sounds of the Budweiser Brewery are as vivid now as they were when I was ten. Best of all, it was usually just me and him and I basked in my father's love.
The second memory of my father comes much later, when I was in my early 20's. After the rape, I was gripped by depression and I honestly didn't think I would make it through. My mother would call me at home while she was at work and if I didn't answer - she would come immediately home. My father never seemed to doubt but at one particularly low point, when I was sitting on the floor in the basement crying hysterically - he stormed down the steps, pulled me to my feet, and wrapped his arms around me. "I am your rock," he told me. "Hold on to me. I will never let you fall." And he never did. Once again, it was just me and him but this time - it was his strength that I drew upon.
Those are the memories that dancing through my mind as I sit by my father's hospital bed. He had major surgery on Monday and this is only the second time in my life that I have seen him ill enough to be hospitalized for any length of time. And even as he sleeps, groggy from pain medication and dwarfed by the hospital bed - he is still larger than life. He is still my first love.
And I will always be Daddy's Little Girl.
God took the strength of a mountain,
The majesty of a tree,
The warmth of a summer sun,
The calm of a quiet sea,
The generous soul of nature,
The comforting arm of night,
The wisdom of the ages,
The power of the eagle’s flight,
The joy of a morning in spring,
The faith of a mustard seed,
The patience of eternity,
The depth of a family need,
Then God combined these qualities,
When there was nothing more to add,
He knew His masterpiece was complete,
And with that, He gave me my Dad.