I want to tell you about my dad, whom I love.
I grew up in Albany, Georgia and right up until high school, I thought all families were like mine - with a loving and supportive father and mother in the same home.
In high school I came to know the terms "absentee father" or "single parent household". A few of my friends would laugh at me, calling me 'naive' and 'sheltered' when I would listen wide-eyed to the dramatic stories of their home life. It seemed to be no big deal to them that they never knew their fathers or if they did, he lived in another part of the city or in another state or worse...
My father came home from work every night. We (my father, mother, sister and brother) ate dinner together. We took vacations together. There is not a time when he was not there, present and engaged in our lives. There are so many special moments, too many to post, of him being engaged, invested and loving us.
He was there to observe the results of my permanent teeth once they grew in and settled all "fang like and crooked". He bent down and asked me to smile, "Oh, yes sirrr...." he laughed. "We're going to have to get those fixed. I can't have you walking around looking like that". (my teeth were pretty bad!)
When I came home embarrassed that my period started at school, my daddy offered comfort and assurance. Once he got home from work, he and I walked up and down our neighborhood street. He wanted to make sure I was okay. I do not remember him saying that much, but I have the memory of him being there.
When it was time for me to get my learners permit, my dad was with me to practice driving our stick shift around the block. I can not tell you how many times I got the gas and clutch confused - we spent more time bucking and the car turning off than anything. Through it all, he remained patient, continuing to encourage me.
When I was diagnosed with cancer in 2001, it broke his heart. On the phone he told me that once I moved back home for my treatment the two of us would spend a lot of time together. He was excited to tell me that he would be my personal nurse. And he was - he would take me to appointments and was there through all of the needles and nausea. As a cancer patient, I would get canvas bags full of pamphlets about how to care for myself while I was undergoing treatment. He read every single one and would report back to me on what I was supposed to be doing (I've never been one to follow rules).
He has been my biggest fan and always tells me, "Honey, the world will get sick of you, but you can always come home"...
A few years ago there was a PSA service announcement of a father helping his daughter with her cheerleading tryout routine. The minute I saw it, I thought of my father and teared up. My father always gave us the opportunity to shine, even if it meant he looked a little silly.
I could have easily written a similar post about my awesome mother, but there are times in our society when the family structure as intended by God is not lifted up. My father set the tone of our household with love, discipline, support and encouragement. For every single father that is not present in the lives of their children by choice, there are countless other fathers that are. We just don't hear about them too often.
My mother holding me as I look up at my father (with older brother making faces at me), and my father walking with me on my wedding day (right).