Thirty years old, yet I still feel like the small little girl that once sat upon your lap. It's funny which memories stick and which slip away, but I'll never forget the way you make me feel, and that's pretty plain and simple: loved.
I don't honestly remember ever struggling as a kid, in the sense of getting by. As a now working mom and adult, I know that that wasn't the case, but you and Mom always did such a good job of keeping money and finances on the down low--it wasn't something that was publicly talked about, even if there were years you two were unsure. I was the kid who grew up in a gorgeous house, with an indoor pool, a super amazing playhouse, and my friends still talk about all those birthday parties. Those blessings were never a small task...they were made possible because of you. One of the hardest working men I know, if something was broke, you knew how to fix it. That's still the case, after the most recent trip to your house and your grandson busting the backboard of an over-the-door basketball hoop. "Ask Pa Pa if he can fix it," I told him. The next day, that once snapped in half hoop was hanging back over the door, ready for him to hopefully NOT dunk on again :)
I still think you have all the answers...especially on all car and house related questions. I remember driving away from the car lot with my very first car, that you helped me choose. That silver Dodge Stratus was my most prized possession for many years to come, and when I crashed her into another car freshman year of college, I remember sobbing my eyes out that 'my car was ruined.' You and mom, six hours away, were of course just worried about your daughter--but I loved that car. You two looked online and I was so stubborn about wanting another Stratus. You found a navy blue one and you DROVE it from Michigan to Kentucky, to hand me the new keys, and you flew back home. I remember you left a Sandi Patty tape in the cassette player. That day was such a picture of sacrifice to me (from Mom too, who was home caring for Nathan), and I won't ever forget it.
Nor will I forget the gas money and the "Love you, Myrtle" sticky notes, one of which is tucked inside my Bible. I should probably laminate that soon. The hot horse show days, not once winning a red or blue ribbon, but you still watching and cheering nonetheless. My first dog, Holly Lou, who you drove an hour away to get on Christmas Eve, and helped take care of the rest of her life after I moved away to college. You joke often about not wanting any more animals to care for, and though I'm not sure how my childhood cat is still alive, I know that Minnie adores you as much as I do. I also know that deep down, you really do love them---all of them, including Sean's turtle, Lily, who also refuses to pass on to animal heaven. I think animals are in my blood so strongly from both you and mom.
Speaking of you and mom. I know the waters have not always been smooth sailing, and you two have both had to make sacrifices and ask for grace from each other, and us kids. But to me, you both are a picture of faith, redemption, and restoration. Your love for one another has surpassed many trials, and I am so thankful that you choose each other. Even and especially when it is hard. She loves you so much, and I know without a doubt that you arms are her safe haven. Your hands are her strength. And you caring, is all she really needs.
Asa once a long time ago, commented on your hands. I'll be honest and say I was caught off guard because growing up with you as my Dad, I think I took them for granted. "Your dads hands show a lifetime of service to your family," he said. "The scars and swollen knuckles, it's all such evidence of providing for all of you." I suppose that makes it all come full circle--the fact that you were able to fix and make anything; all such proof that you have always provided. I never went without, because for you, that was never an option.
I will forever hold tightly to the memories we have. Dad and daughter breakfast dates, Christmas Eve shopping for mom, random open house viewings, Sunday restaraunt dining, no bake cookies, and our shared love of peanut butter + chocolate anything. I pray that someday, you can slow down and not have to work SO hard...and I also pray that you know how loved you are.
You, Dad, are a hardworking man of faith. You can make us laugh out loud, and in your arms, there is strength, safety, and never ending love. Happy Father's Day, Dad.
I love you.