To my father, from his daughter
After only a few months after his 20th birthday, my dad became – well, a dad.
He was a skinny kid, a firefighter and would soon be entering Army boot camp.
When I look back on pictures of my dad, with his boot camp-haircut, with his skinny post-teenage physique, that's hardly the man I remember as “Dad.”
I can't really recall the earliest memory I have of my dad; I remember visiting him in the hospital after he'd been in a gas plant explosion while firefighting. I didn't fully understand how close I was to losing my daddy forever.
Some things I'm not sure if I indeed remember, or if I just recall from watching family videos.
As I grow older, I have more concrete memories of him.
My dad somehow survived me nearly driving into the house (twice) and the fact that I was terrified to drive above 30 miles per hour.
I can't say the experience left him without scars, though – he has openly declared that he's hanging up his hat when it comes to teaching my younger siblings how to drive.
My dad always worked hard, maybe sometimes too hard.
There are 10 of us kids, and early on in their marriage, my parents decided that it would be best for my mom to be a stay-at-home parent.
While mom stayed home with us kids, dad was – and is – the sole provider for our family.
That meant plenty of long nights and early mornings at the office as my dad put in the hours that would keep us all fed, clothed and housed.
My dad taught me by his example what a hard worker is and how a professional should act.
When I was first hired as a fledgling news reporter, it was my dad who was ecstatic and shared in my excitement over this new venture.
In many ways, my dad has been my biggest cheerleader – whether as a photographer, a news reporter or a writer, he's always the one on the sidelines, cheering me on.
I won't say that my dad is perfect because he's far from it, but when I think of father-like love, I think of my dad working late to provide for his family. I think of my dad taking the time to listen as I complain about workplace woes. I think of my dad sharing news of his daughter's achievements with his friends and of my dad giving me the push I sometimes need to do things on my own.
To my dad: I love you so much, I wouldn't be the person I am today without you. Thank you for the years you've spent investing in us kids. Thank you for the care you gave me when I was sick and the tough-love you provided when I had my teen (...and, sometimes, post-teen...) attitudes. I am extremely blessed to have you as my dad.
Happy Father's Day, from your first born.