I know you’ve heard this about a million times, but I love you.
You and I aren’t always great with words. Mostly because whenever we try, we end up crying and making feeble attempts to avoid eye contact. We are experts at feigned stoicism.
This year, I feel like you deserve more than a phone call and a random Facebook post. Because social media can’t possibly capture the depth of what you’ve done for me over the years.
You’ve literally been there for me from the beginning, and although we didn’t always agree, and I was a Dennis Rodman fan, you always managed to find the good in me. I have no idea how, but I’m starting to believe that you think I’m perfect. Thank you for overlooking years of selfishness, and snottiness, and normal kid behavior. Times four.
It occurred to me this year, as I was sitting at a ball field on your birthday, that you had probably spent more than a few of your birthdays that way. Maybe one of us had a game, or you were coaching. Maybe it was hot, and you’d worked all day, too. But you were there; either coaching or cheering. You might have been wishing we’d just stayed home, or that we were eating at Bojack’s, but you showed up.
Dad, I don’t have a single memory of you ever complaining about doing “Dad Stuff.” You never pointed out the sacrifices you made for us, you just did it. I still have no idea the lengths you went to make sure three out of four kids were all in name brand athletic wear for each sport, every year. For a million years. Thanks for the Swoopes. I loved those shoes.
The best part about you, Dad, is that you’ve never let me get down on myself. Whenever I felt crummy, or inadequate, you always reminded me of my value as a person. I never felt like you didn’t love me, or accept who I was. You always encouraged me to chase my dreams.
I always felt safe with you. Sometimes, when I come home, I fight the urge to hold your hand while walking in the grocery store parking lot, because of the vivid memories I have of your efforts to hold mine for so many years. I also fight it because we’ve been mistaken for a married couple more than once. You’ve got swagger.
You are the best Grampy. You always manage to find a way to make the kids laugh. You feed them terrible, unhealthy food, and soda, and endless popsicles, and they will love you forever for it. They’ll be good grandparents because they have such a fun example.
You taught me to “go with the flow.” One of the best lessons I’ve learned when dealing with people. Sometimes it isn’t all about me and what I want. Sometimes other people have great ideas. Going with the flow has gotten me through some tough stuff.
You were a dad to my brothers. When you didn’t have to, you made three boys your own. You parented them through some hard things, and loved them like crazy. You coached their teams, stood on sidelines, and occasionally chewed out a ref. They’re your sons and my brothers, and together with mom, we’re a family. I love talking with the boys. We’re loud, and our hands fly everywhere, and we all have such different opinions; you just smile at us. I think you’re proud of how we turned out.
Most importantly, your unconditional love helped me understand who God is. The church talks a lot about Him being our Heavenly Father. Some of my friends have a hard time seeing God as a loving Father because they didn’t have one here on earth. I’m one of the lucky people who got a front row seat to a dad’s loving presence. So, it wasn’t a stretch for me to understand that God loves me no matter what. You did that! Thank you.
There should be more than one day to celebrate you, so I promise to say more nice stuff from now on. You’re more than deserving.
Thank you for… well… everything.
I love you.