Dads take you camping, whether you think it is cool or not. Dads hold onto the back of your bicycle until they know you have it and then dads trust enough to let it go. Dads hold you when your world is crashing down around you as you move out of your first love's apartment. Dads fix you a drink when they can see that life has taken you by the scruff and shook you until you can hardly stand anymore. Dads give you the best of themselves and inspire you to give the best of yourself back.
My Dad is like that. He joined our family when I was nine and has stuck with me through some harrowing times of willful, nasty, hasty youth. He never walked away, he didn't stop taking my calls, my Dad loved me no matter how unlovable I was. I was not an easy child and he was either fully aware of how to deal with me or he was blissfully ignorant of what he was getting into. It really doesn't matter which, I came to respect him for the quiet way he dealt with my shenanigans.
Dad is where I learned to be handy and "crafty". Dad reinforced all the frugal beginnings of my grandmother's teachings and taught me how to make what I had on hand into what I wanted. I never had to go far for an example of how to create from what we had lying around. I remember entire dining room tables (large ones) made out of strips of 1 x 1 oak scrap that dad glued together to make boards large enough to form the table tops and the same scraps glued together into posts to turn on a lathe for the legs. I got a bed out of that stuff too and it was beautiful! It was a turned four poster bed that you could see through the turnings... I wish I still had it, but I was incredibly hard on those delicate posts and the bed was scrapped when I left home.
Dad has made all sorts of other things as well. He has laid miles of hard wood floors, but never the plain old one color type - No! He plans intricate designs and inlays that simply take my breath away. He has fashioned wind sculptures and hand carved claw foot furniture. He is an avid gardener and a constant tinkerer. He is an electrical engineer (at least I think he is) and he can mechanic if he has to.
At Christmas time Dad is known as Sparky, after the Chevy Chase character in National Lampoons' Christmas Vacation. He decorates the parental home in millions of tiny white twinkle lights and hooks up his computer to generate professional style shows to Christmas carols. I let my friends and family know every year he gets the show set up and they drive by to listen to his creative works. He starts setting up the lights and replacing strands around Halloween and usually has the show ready to debut about the second week in December. I love that about him.
Dad is also a musician. He plays professionally a few times a month and I have always known him with a guitar in his hands. I tried once to learn, but the tenderness of my soft fingers and the fact that I had to keep my nails trimmed squashed that desire rather quickly. Dad wasn't disappointed and he didn't try to keep me going in it, he simply laughed. It didn't matter to him where I found my passion, just as long as I was happy.
On a day like today, I want my Dad to know that he matters. In all things, I am a part of a man that chose to love me for me, despite my bad attitude and my poor choices. I love my Dad in a way that is filled with respect, admiration, loyalty and quiet confidence.
Dad, you taught me to love when it wasn't easy, to laugh at my own silliness, to cry with others without offering up unsolicited advice and to accept life's trials as a challenge to succeed no matter the odds. I hope that you enjoy this day basking in the knowledge that you are cherished and loved as only a Dad can be. Thank you for always loving me back.