Let me start off by saying I know the best man in the entire world, hands down. There is no one out there who works harder, cares more, or loves better than my Dad. We all grow up and learn things we wish we would have known years ago. I spent my teenage years living with him as a single parent. Now looking back I realize how hard I was on him, and realizing that he had the most difficult job in the entire world. I was an only child and his solo opportunity to raise someone the right way. With no prior experience in parenthood and a daughter with adolescent drama, my Dad did the absolute best he could. And now I realize how incredible of a job he did. As I grow older I am so regretful for not having the knowledge that I have now. There are times I am still upset or I cry because of the things I remember saying or doing to him. Things that were not fair, not true, and were not called for. But, at the time I didn’t know any better, I was young and even though I didn’t think it at the time, I was dumb. I can still remember him telling me “One day you will understand.” He was the perfect example of being a parent first and a friend second, that now at my age has a whole new level of respect and understanding. We fought, disagreed, and argued about practically everything, well except for KU basketball. But we also got to share our time, meals, chocolate milk shakes, jokes, and pranks. I think about all of the things that he took care of and provided that I didn’t even think to tell him how grateful I was for. The things he went without so I could have the things I wanted. I would say my middle school years were the most difficult, but I think that is fairly standard for most young girls. While high school was better for our relationship, I regret being so busy and not spending the time with him I should have. I worked a lot, I was with my friends a lot, and I didn’t help him how I wish I would have. I can still remember leaving to go hang out at a friend’s house and he would be painting from the time he woke up at 5am, until I got home in the late afternoon. Or when I would leave for the lake on the weekends and he would be working his tail off in the yard on the hottest days of the year. He worked, I played. He took care of everything, and I reaped the benefits. All of these things he did because he was a father, but never once complained about it.
Once I started college I began understanding how great of a job my Dad had done. He led by example and instilled values and morals that I still have today. He wasn’t above listening to my issues and he always had a solution. He put up with all of my ridiculous questions and requests; and always helped me when I was in need. I was only an hour and a half away from home but I didn’t come back or call much. Which is another thing I regret, but we can’t change the past, all we can do is improve our future! Any time something happened he was the first one I called to share the news and I loved hearing the excitement in his voice.
Once college was over and I moved back home is when I truly began to recognize how much I value him as a father. I was no longer so young that he couldn’t tell me some things I needed to hear and he never stopped teaching me. There were so many times when I realized I was turning into a mirror image of him. And, even though I don’t like to admit it, the things he always told me that I never wanted to believe he was wrong about were actually true. Like: shoes right inside of the front door isn’t the best storage place; dishes are easier to clean when they don’t sit out overnight, not to let your car run on empty in the winter time, and grass is not the best parking spot to name a few. Long story short, I began to realize he was right, he was smart, and beyond anything he knew what was best for me.
As years have passed I notice more and more every single day how lucky I am to have him as my Dad. He didn’t sell me short by letting me get away with things; he held me responsible for my actions and made me pay for my mistakes. He encouraged me to work hard and help others so that I could be proud of the work I had done. I can hear his insert right now: “If you are going to do something half-assed, then don’t even do it at all.” He taught me to treat other people well, help those in need, and always return things in better condition than when you borrowed them. He made me learn a lot of things on my own, but always helped me pick up the pieces when they fell. He held me accountable for a lot more than what other kids my ages were – another Dad insert: “I don’t care if they don’t have to, they are not my kid, you are,” but I had his advice along the way. He didn’t give in to all of my requests; I always wanted that master bedroom, but he insisted it was his, because he was the ‘master of the house.’ I don’t know that he would like to admit it but he is sentimental and taught me to hold onto things so I will always have memories with people who aren’t around anymore. I knew more than anyone he always had my back and would protect me against anything. So many of the things he taught me are the things that I appreciate the most in my daily life now. I can hope for nothing more than to be more and more like him. My Dad has the funniest sense of humor, the best stories, and the most genuine laugh.
As times continue to change I know I will be even more thankful for him. He is the one person in my life that I know will never let me down. I can go to him with anything and I know with certainty he will do everything in his power to make it better. While he is still my Dad above and beyond anything else, I know now we can also be friends. He is the person I talk to almost every morning on the way to work, and I cannot tell you how much that time means to me. When something good happens he is still the first person I call; and when something bad happens I know his advice will fix it. And I still ask him outrageous questions. I look at who I am now and I can do nothing more than hope that I have made him proud, put a smile on his face, and carried on his legacy that he would want me too. I am so thankful for him and everything he has done for me. He is the ultimate father and someone I love so much. I just hope he realizes how grateful I am for him. I love you Dad, thank you for everything.