Some of my earliest memories of my dad include him running around chasing my brother’s with me on his back, piggy back style. That was our Monday night growing up. Mom would play Mah Jong with her friends and dad would be home with us. Before bed time, he would give me a piggy back ride and chase my brothers around through his bedroom, into the bathroom, into the hall way and back around into the bedroom! I don’t even know if we were trying to do anything else but we laughed as we ran. I knew then my daddy was a strong vibrant man. And that has never changed.
My dad did everything himself when I was growing up. He built our patio, fixed cars, was a baseball coach, and cut and cared for our lawn. I would love hot summer days when he would cut the lawn. When he was all done, he would crack open a Budweiser (in a can) and sit down on a lawn chair in the garage to rest. I would usually climb up on his lap and he would let me have a sip of the ice cold beer. My dad wasn’t a huge drinker but loved an ice cold beer on a hot summer day. I loved those moments that I would get with him when it would just be us. Whether it was there on the lawn chair or under a car showing me how to change the oil, I definitely got daddy-daughter time.
I then got to watch my brother’s grow into amazing dads like mine. All three had one trait that never waivers, patience with their children…except on a ball field. Then they were impatient, scary, yellers…to their kid, and sometimes to the umpire or ref, especially my oldest brother. Steve was an amazing dad. He was loving, caring and always there for his children, but all of his kids figured out early to just ignore the man yelling from the sidelines. In fact there were times when nobody else would sit anywhere near him in the stands since he was at times rude and obnoxious. Ok, I enjoyed it and would stay by him for entertainment purposes. He taught his kids what not to do as well!
My brother Jeff has been a great role model with his kids, rarely losing his temper and letting things roll off of his back. His sense of humor and ability to just move on were great lessons to his children. He also showed them how to work hard and be your best.
All three of these men shaped how I look at fathers, along with others in my life. But there are women who I also saw as parental role models as single moms who I celebrate on this day. My friend Nancy and my friend Sue have been the 2 women I saw navigate single motherhood from the front row and give them both a standing ovation! They understood that their kids came first, that they would be mother and father when the father was not around and taught their daughters what a strong woman is all about.
Today I celebrate them as well. The women who have had to be both mom and dad at times. The women who love fiercely and completely.
And I am blessed to celebrate my daddy today, at almost 92 years of age, he is still vibrant and strong. He has the added challenge of caring for my mom, and he does it with such patience and a sense of humor. He reminds me daily of what unconditional love is really all about. He loves every bit of my mom, even her dark edges and dusty corners of her mind and soul. He lets things roll off of his back and just remembers that he loves her completely. Even when she is yelling at him for no reason.
Today I celebrate the men in my life who love and care for others. The men in my life who are dads, uncles, brothers and caregivers who encourage, and love unconditionally those around them. Today I celebrate the women in my life who have raised their children on their own and who have fiercely given all they have.
I wish I could sit on my dad’s lap and have that sip of beer again, but instead I will sit next to him with a cup of coffee and remind him of what a wonderful role model and father he has been to me.
Happy Father’s Day to all.