Ever since I was a little girl he has always been the person I ran crying to when something was wrong or when I was really excited about something. When I was three years old I wanted to ride an elephant. I tugged and I pulled on his hand until he said yes and climbed up next to me so I could ride the elephant.
When I was five and in kindergarten and I wanted the smelly markers for a coloring contest but wasn’t allowed, he cheered me up by showing me how to draw a dragon. His was better but 5-year-old me didn’t care, I had drawn a dragon just like my daddy.
In 2005 I was seven, and I almost lost my dad to what they called a widow maker. The blockage was bad and the doctors said they couldn’t believe he was breathing, let alone standing, walking, and cracking wise jokes. That was the year I counted my blessings and prayed along with the pastor for dad to be okay. Then he was, the doctor said he would be okay and the pastor said the prayers had been answered. My dad was okay, and I knew in that moment as a 7 year old little girl that he would always be okay because my daddy was strong and could overcome anything.
When I was in 1st grade my dad taught me how to throw a baseball, how to hit it to make it go far, and how to catch it because he said that you can’t just dodge the ball and expect to win. I remembered that all through school, you can’t just dodge things and expect it to turn out okay. Sometimes you have to take what life throws you, catch it and throw it back harder; and that’s what I did for my entire life. Every spelling test, every pop quiz, every project, game, or exhibition I took what I was given and did it to the best of my ability.
I wanted to play softball a few years later, and that’s when I learned the value of a dollar. I wanted to play, so I needed to figure out how to do that, I was a big girl in 6th grade and I couldn’t just ask mommy and daddy for things anymore. I saved up my allowance, did extra chores, and saved up birthday money to pay to play for the city. I was proud because I had paid for it myself.
My dad came to every game he could, granted I wasn’t always great but he cheered anyways. When I wanted to learn to pitch in fastpitch softball he spent hours in the afternoon, in the front yard teaching me pitching stances, all about release points and ball handling skills. I remember the first time I pitched and strike out in a game I had never seen him smile so much. Even though we lost we still got celebratory ice cream that day because I had pitched a strike out.
He always supported everything I did, from Flag football, softball, and basketball to being a mini cheerleader, joining the debate team, and performing in musicals all throughout my elementary to high school years. Granted I may not have been good at everything I did, but he was proud nonetheless.
There were times we didn’t agree on things and I, inevitably, gave him sass and said I picked up my sarcastic mouth from him, but it’s okay because I wouldn’t trade it for the world. While it may have gotten me into a lot of trouble sometimes, I’m grateful to have a sense of humor now.
He brought me up with all the classics in Marvel and DC, along with Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Harry Potter. He made sure I knew who James Bond was and Jason Bourne. I can quote NCIS and Criminal Minds like the back of my hand because of him. Not to mention my obsession with the show Bones. He taught me about music and how you can love all genres of things. I remember going from Christian music to breaking out cassette tapes and listening to Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, after I got hooked on guitar hero, and dancing around our living room doing the best air guitar we possibly could.
I never worried that I would fail him because I knew that as long as I did my best I would make him proud. Did I make mistakes? Well that’s a given, and I definitely have gotten into more troubled spots than I care to share but I was never afraid of mistakes. Every time I did something wrong he helped me fix it and then told me a funny story about someone else in the family to make me feel better. And if things did get to a point where I needed to have a good cry, he let me cry it all out, made me feel better, and then put me back on a path to try again and do it better next time.
My dad has always been there for me and supported all my decisions. He supported me through the ups and downs in high school, and man were there a lot of those. When I wanted to switch majors in college like five different times he always just said “Baby girl you gotta do whatever is going to make you happy, and me and your mama will support it.” He’s stayed true to those words, because I have switched my major like five times and every time he’s just nodded and said “Do what you have to do.”
Dad has always been there for me when I needed to chat or talk about something or bounce my ideas off of. He always knew when something was up or could tell when I had something big to say. He’s taken in my friends and made them feel like family and is always the first to say he’s adopted another kid when I bring home someone new. He jokes and makes people laugh in the best of times and in the worst of times.
He’s the first person I call when I need a good laugh or to hear about a day that had some funny shenanigans in it. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it wasn’t for my dad and I honestly don’t know what I would do without him. So I wanted to say thank you for all the things he’s done for me and writing is the best way that I know how.
Thank you for everything you’ve done for me dad. I’m so proud of you for overcoming all the chemo treatments and the tests and the pain that you’ve been going through on your battle with Leukemia. I know it’s hard and I know there are some days that feel like a little too much, a little too hard, but you’re pushing through and fighting and I couldn’t be more proud of you. We are all backing you and praying for you everyday. I pray to God everyday for your return to good health and I am thankful for everyone who has helped you in this journey. You are so strong and you’ve kept it together for not only yourself but for all of us too as you’re going through all of this. You are my hero and I love you. We are family strong and I have no doubt we can all get through this together and that you can beat this.
I love you daddy.