I've always considered myself a chip off the old block - I searched the mirror for every physical sign that I looked just like my dad for years. The blue eyes are the obvious answer; I think I have his nose, too. As I've gotten older, though, I've realized the most telltale signs are in my personality. I'm proud of that, and I hope he is, too.
My dad came to every single one of my high school basketball games. Every. Single. One. You think that's impressive, consider this - my team didn't win a single game for two years. And yet, he still came. In fact, his perfect attendance began with my junior high school games, during which he got so frustrated with the lousy refereeing, he became one. Because that's what my dad does - if something isn't right, he fixes it.
I hold so precious the memories of laying on the couch talking to my dad about anything and everything, sometimes staying up until the wee hours of the morning pondering the big questions in life. The hours-long conversations didn't end with my leaving for West Point; the toll free number my parents got so that I could call home from the pay phones in the barracks basements was worn out after four years of cadet life. If I remember correctly, my parents kept that number even into my years as a lieutenant, during which the marathon conversations between me and my dad continued.
There are a million reasons my dad is the best, but the most important ones are so hard to articulate. He just is. He gets me; he loves me despite all of my failings; he's always there whenever I need him, at a moment's notice, no matter how long it's been since I last called because life has gotten in the way. If you need an example of the unconditional love of a parent, look no farther than the love my dad has for me. I'm doing my best to be the same kind of parent to my own children.
So happy birthday, Dad. I love you and celebrate everything you are to me and to everyone who loves you.
|Me and my dad, c. 1976|
|My dad and my daughter, August 2014|