Sunday, June 15, 2008

My Dad

I didn't know what to get my dad for Father's Day. After all, what do you buy an ex-Suburbanite who has returned to his red-neck roots out in the Pennsylvania countryside? Give the man an acre of land and his John Deere tractor and call it heaven. So instead of the traditional Father's Day tie or mug, I decided to write a blog about this incredible man. I'll try and keep it brief but there is much that I could say.

I don't know a lot about my Dad's childhood. The facts I do have are ones that do not make for an idealic boyhood. Not that you'd every hear my Dad speak poorly of his parents or his upbringing. I think my dad chooses to reflect instead on the benefits of growing up in the country when life was simpler. Rather than play victim to the circumstances of his childhood, my dad made the choice to do better for himself and for his family. He broke the cycle to create a loving and nurturing environment for his children. For that reason, he is my hero.

I'm far more acquainted with my dad's parenting years because, well, I was there. He loved sacrificially during our childhood, denying himself hobbies and leisure to divide himself among his professional responsibilities and the demands of a wife and five daughters. I think Dad would be the first to admit that much of the day to day stuff of life he willingly deferred to my Mom (for which he gives her much credit). There where, however, many roles that only Dad could fill: coaching softball ("you throw like a girl!") dying Easter eggs, carving pumpkins, decorating Christmas trees, after dinner wrestling, driving to no place special, and creating art projects just to name of few. These were the moments that let us know that Dad didn't merely endure our presence in his world, but that he enjoyed engaging with us. In these memorable yet subtle ways, he made known to us that we were people of value and that we were loved. For that reason, he is part of my heart.

I also had the privilege of knowing my dad in a role that few children do, as a boss and co-worker. Dad gave me my first "real" job in the professional world. He taught me well and expected much. He taught me that anything worth doing is worth doing with excellence. I will always reflect on my days (sometimes 36 hours straight!) of working alongside of my dad as the best of my career. I will never forget how proud I was when Dad would take me on appointments and introduce me to his clients. It was such an honor do be know as "Steve's daughter." But above all else my dad instilled in me the importance a strong work ethic. He accomplished this in a way that makes my dad a true man of integrity. Not with words, but by example. For that reason, he is a success.

And now, as I begin to release my own children into the world, I think I understand and appreciate my dad even more. I know the heart of a parent. I realize that my dad gave himself completely for his family and strived to do better for us than what was done for him. I value the quiet strength and the selfless intentions that guided the decisions that my dad made as we were growing up. I can empathize with his struggles and doubts as a parent. In the end, my dad and mom have raised five little girls to become five strong women. Women who despite our vast differences on religion, politics and life in general, come together time and time again because...we are family. That is an accomplishiment!

I can only hope that 20 some years from now as my children stop to reflect on me as a parent, that they will do so with as much love and respect as I have for this wonderful man, my Dad.

Simply Stated: I love you, Dad!


Leslie said...

I couldn't have said it better myself!