When I was little he taught me how to shoot a BB gun, ride a bike, ride a horse, and anything else I wanted to learn. He never said, "Little girls don't do that" instead, he would usually laugh, say something along the lines of "Don't tell your mother" and off we would go.
We went to the beach several times every summer. While Mom was sitting on the shore or looking for shells, Daddy was in the water with my brother and I playing, splashing, and pretending he loved us climbing on his back to jump off.
When I was in high school, he worked for the phone company and drove from house to house repairing the phone lines. I was a swimmer. At that point in my life, that was about the only way I described myself as everything I did revolved around swimming (I ran track to stay in shape for summer swim team, I did summer swim team to get ready for the high school team...). Swimming was my life. Daddy knew this, but he was rarely able to take off on Tuesdays and Thursday for my swim meets. However, if it was a home meet, my dad would drive around the pool as often as he could to ask me how I was doing. If I was about to swim, he'd pull over and park so he could stand by the fence to watch, even if it made him a little late to his next appointment. Those few minutes of him being there meant more to me than the parents who showed up to every meet, every time, because they had the time to do so. It was something he didn't have to do, he did it just for me, just to support me, just to say, "that's my daughter out there!"
In 2003, we found out that Daddy has cancer. Mantle Cell Lymphoma. Rare. Aggressive. Hard to treat. Scared the crap out of me. Suddenly the man I thought was as solid as a rock wasn't, or so I thought at first. I vowed to be strong for him, as strong as he had always been for me... but I soon realized, that he was still a rock, he was still strong, and he was still holding me together. Even when the doctor told him he was considered terminal and probably had only 3 years to live, he never gave up. He never gave up in himself, in his doctors, or in God.
Many things will forever stick in my mind about my dad but probably the most important one was what he said to me while he was laying in a hospital bed as I started to cry.
"What are you crying for? There is nothing to cry over. I haven't shed a tear or lost a moments sleep and neither should you. God is taking care of this. It's in His hands now. If He needs me here, He'll leave me here. When He wants me home, He'll take me home. It's out of our control so why worry?"
He was right, there was nothing to worry about. My dad is still strong, still fighting, and still going long after the doctors said he should have passed. He has had chemotherapy, radiation, stem cell transplants, more clinical trials than I can count ("Even if it doesn't help me, if it helps them find a cure for someone else, my job is done."), and finally last year, a bone marrow transplant from an anonymous donor - who we found out this year lives in GA.
I remember praying that God allowed my dad to see me get married and to hold his grandchildren. God is great, and he has answered my prayers with a resounding YES. My dad not only saw me get married, but mustered up the strength to walk me down the aisle and dance with me at the reception. In October, he will see my child born, his newest grandchild (my brother already has 2 sons so I can't say "first grandchild").
God is great, but my daddy comes in a pretty close second! Happy Father's Day Daddy, I love you!