Sometimes I think I could write a book about how great my dad is. Truth be told, I knew he was a great dad while I was growing up but it wasn't until I became an adult that I realized how truly blessed I am to have him as my father.
From the time I was little I knew my dad to be quick to listen, slow to speak. He disciplined more by talking in a calm, logical voice than by yelling or using his hand. He guided with encouragement and support, helping me make decisions as I went. When I was young, we were only allowed to watch 1/2 hour of TV a day and whenever we watched our show my favorite place to lay was on my dad's leg. It was a place of comfort and relaxation. When we weren't watching our show, he was playing games with us. Monopoly was a favorite and he patiently played for hours, while teaching me about money and investments (Ironically, I still need to be taught those lessons).
As I got older we butted heads sometimes but, now that I'm an adult, I realize that I didn't know everything and that I should've heeded my dad's (and mom's) advice more. Even now, although I'm a parent myself, my dad will graciously call me out when I'm being a brat. He's still quick to listen and slow to speak but our roles have changed to more of friends and confidants than as parent/child. Some of my favorites times as an adult is when we go on Father/Daughter dates. He used to take me to Olive Garden since that used to be one of my favorite restaurants (even though he didn't like it in the least). Now we mull over life while enjoying hamburgers at one of our favorite burger joints. As always, he listens and gives advice (even when I don't always ask for it). He guides me with that same gentle guidance he's used all my life. I don't take it for granted.
Looking back on my life, some of the things I appreciate most about my dad now were things I either didn't know at the time or have grown to love. I remember spending countless hours at the church because my dad was the church treasurer. I wasn't always a fan of staying late every Sunday night while my dad counted the tithe checks, but now, looking back, I'm thankful that he was faithful in his ministry. He taught by example how important it is to be the spiritual leader of the household, even if that doesn't mean you're front and center in the church. I appreciate how he's dated my mom for more than 40 years of marriage. He used to throw her elaborate surprise birthday parties and sacrifice his wants to buy her nice gifts. He still takes her out on dates and watches chick flicks. He still buys her fresh flowers every week and writes her love notes. He taught me the importance of dating your spouse and loving even when marriage gets difficult. When I was a senior in high school I went through a I'm-smarter-than-my-parents phase and hung out with a less than stellar group of peers. A few years ago I learned that my dad, out of concern for me, rigged the doors of the house and slept on the couch for several nights because he was afraid I was going to run away from home during that time. He feared for my life- both spiritually and physically, so he gave up the comfort of sleeping in his own bed to ensure that I was safe. The older my boys get, the more I appreciate this selfless act that may or may not have changed my life. Another fun high school experience was math. Around jr high it became obvious that I had reached my limit in my mathematical ability. Yet my dad patiently tutored me in math despite my tantrums, mean words and tears.
He has loved me through the bad and ugly. He has comforted me during the lonely and the sad. He has laughed with me through the happy and joyful. And through it ALL he has loved me unconditionally. I honestly wish everyone could be blessed with a dad like mine. Because if they could, I have no doubt that this world would be a better place.
I love you, Dad! Thanks for everything you have done and given me throughout life. But, thanks most of all for being YOU, a man of God!!