I have been incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by strong male figures throughout my whole life. Not just my dad, but a brother I count as one of my best friends; three grandfathers who are so different from one another but who have all been incredibly generous with their time, resources, knowledge and experience; and uncles who show over and over again the value of lending a hand and hard work.
But it's Father's Day, so let's take a little closer look at my dad, who wants to know what's up with the abbreviation when I write "Dad" instead of "Daddy." He's a man who has always had a lot on his plate (the debate rages over what constitutes "too much") and has to be ten hours from home to actually relax. He is among the smartest people I know, though he will tell you he can't do algebra, and he is the hardest worker I can think of. It's amazing how the things my brother and I thought were ridiculous expectations growing up turned out to be some of the most important shapers of our character. Some of my favorite Daddy-isms would have to be:
• Do as I say, not as I do.
• Don't make it harder than it has to be.
• Do it right the first time.
For all his demands of us, Daddy was the one to give it to our whims: puppies and horses, motorcycles and rifles. He has always been a very in-the-moment kind of person, which sometimes still runs counter to my plan-oriented nature and difficulty switching gears (mental gears, but now that I think of it, the lesson on driving stick shift didn't go so well either). He sees the value in everything, deeming what I would consider junk as rusty gold and calling it our inheritance. He's also really amazing at seeing the value in people and extending his help and his knowledge again and again.
Daddy is a great people person. It's rare to go anywhere with him without bumping into someone he knows. Even on vacations several hours from home this happens. He can talk so long with anybody we even had a little rhyme about it as kids:
Just sittin' in the car
While Daddy talks and talks.
He knows just where we are
But still he talks and talks.
We try so hard to be patient
But sometimes it gets pretty boring.
By the time he comes back
We'll probably all be snoring!
Daddy is a great story teller too. He has stories from growing up and his college days that crack me up every time he tells them.
Keith likes to tell me I'm a lot like my dad, usually meaning that I can be stubborn and get a certain tone to my voice. Those things are true, but I'd like to think that I'm the hard worker he raised me to be, someone who is open to adventure, and who sees value where others haven't thought to look as well.
Speaking of Keith, I can't let Father's Day pass without talking about him. Keith was always on board with having a family, but I think he really worried that he wouldn't enjoy the baby stage. It was amazing to watch him soak up every moment along the way with Bert and find that every stage has been fun so far. I know he looks forward to watching both these boys play sports, but I am so grateful that he has been incredibly involved since the moment Bert arrived. He doesn't give a second thought to coming home from a long day at work and spending the evening playing with Bert, taking him on bike rides or walks through the park. His patience astounds me and even though I'm the one here with Bert all day, I definitely can learn something about parenting from Keith. He is such an essential part of raising these boys into good men, and it's a big responsibility but he tackles it the way he does everything else: honestly, head-on, and with a good dose of humor. I couldn't be happier with the partner I have in him and the support he gives me every day is what keeps me going.
Let's not forget a more-than-honorable mention to my brother, who chose to become a dad when he didn't have to, and never looked back even when it didn't all work out the way he planned. I couldn't be prouder of the man he is today, and the great parent he is to the most fun and exuberant girl I have ever met. He is like my dad, one of those all-in, in-the-moment guys, and still able to keep the big picture of what an important job it is to raise a child.
So here's to all the dads out there, and all the men who have helped to shape my life into what it is today. Happy Father's Day!