When I was 3-years-old, my dad threw me into the lake and yelled, “Kick, kick, kick!” My mom was not pleased (to say the least) as he scooped me out of the water. He did this to teach me how to swim, to not be scared, and to learn what to do should I find myself in the water again.
When I was five-years-old, my dad pushed me off and ran behind me as I learned to ride my bike without training wheels. “Peddle!”, he yelled as I excitedly conquered riding on two wheels.
When I was 9-years-old, my dad looked up at me on the diving board of the deep end and yelled, “You can do it!” as I did a gainer off of the board.
When I was 11-years-old, my dad held my hand as he told me I would never have children.
Waking up from my hysterectomy, in a daze, I saw him and the doctor standing over me. The courage and strength he must have carried just to mutter those words overwhelms me. It breaks my heart and fills it with pride all at the same time. Actually, I do not recall one time waking up in the hospital without him present. Even as an adult, if I have a serious medical issue come up, he is there. He has always been there.
As we celebrate Father’s Day this weekend in the US, the times my dad has told me to “jump” or held my hand when I needed it the most, have flooded my mind. My dad is not perfect. He was not as a young father and he is not as a grandfather but he is always there and always giving his two-cents-worth (or more).
I can come up with a thousand words to describe my dad but that would make way too long of a blog post and I’m sure you would get bored with it. I’ll just say this. My dad is loyal. He is opinionated (even when you don’t want to hear it). He has a soft heart (even if he doesn’t want others to know it). He is exactly the kind of Earthly dad that I need (even if that irked me as a teenager).
Throughout my life, I have had this notion; this juxtaposition that I need to be careful and brave all at the same time. I have carried this feeling that life is precious but also worth taking a risk. I learned this from my parents – especially my dad.
When it has come to making decisions that might elate and break my heart at the same time, I have always tended to go for it, despite the risk. When it comes to expressing my opinion even if it means being misunderstood or ignored, I have usually leaned towards just stating it. A big part of this is the faith I have in God; my Heavenly Father, Keeper of my Secrets, Whisperer of my dreams. Another part, of course, is my Earthly Father; my dad.
As I get older and watch my parents get older, I have come to recognize the full measure of what it is to have a dad (and a mom) who are still active in parenting. They give me advice. They help around my house. They celebrate special events. They cry when I cry. They laugh when I laugh. They worry…just like I suspect I will when my children are adults. I know our days are numbered. I know that one day, I will wake up without my parents to call or cry to or just be there. It is becoming more real as we all traverse this crazy thing called life. I do not know how many Father’s Days I will have with my dad but I do know that each and every one is special and that I appreciate him more and more as time passes by.
Looking back on life, he has always been there. When we fostered, he was immediately at my door step the minute we accepted our children into our home. As a grandparent through adoption, he has never wavered in his love for my kids. Not once. Not for a second. Never.
Back in 1983 when my dad held my hand and whispered truth and encouragement into my ears, I would have never guessed that we would be where we are today…three kids…three lives touched by adoption…three lives influenced by my dad…hearts that were once filled with grief, now at peace.
On this Father’s Day, to my dad, I want to say, “Thank You”. Thank you for throwing me in the lake at 3-years-old. Thank you for pushing me off on my bike ride at 5-years-old. Thank you for yelling “You can do it!” when I was 9-years-old. Thank you for digging through your own grief and finding the wisdom to tell me at 11-years-old that I would never have biological children.
As an adult, when considering choices in front of me, I usually go with the attitude of “go for it”. I know this came from my dad.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. Thank you for encouraging me to always jump into the deep end.