Most people think I look like my mother, but they’re wrong. If you set me up next to my dad, and really look at us both, you see the resemblance. We have the same type of hair – curly yet fine. And our eyes are the same shocking blue – so blue they’re almost grey. His eyes have a slight sparkle, all the time. But it’s really when I smile I think you can see my dad in me. We were both blessed with straight, even teeth. Our lips make the perfect half-moon shape when we grin, and our dimples are embedded in our cheeks like they were always meant to be there. I suppose I like to see the resemblance because I want to resemble him so much.
My father was always the dad in the neighborhood who came out to play with the kids. He’d take his little break after work, sure, but he would always get up and come find us outside. He’d be the all-time QB for our football games and would use the lawnmower in the big field behind our house to carve out a kickball diamond. He always made sure every kid was nice to others, and that everyone was involved in the game. No one got left out, and he knew how to make these games fun. Some of my fondest memories come from his time blocking out other kids so my teeny little brother could get a clear shot at the basket, or making sure our scrawny neighbor was open so he could throw to him nice and easy.
I always wonder why I was so blessed with such an involved dad. He never missed a moment with us. He would work hard all day, only to run right over to soccer practice (which he coached, along with basketball and softball…and that’s just me!). I can’t remember a time when he chose work over us. He was there for everything, and he always seemed to know how to make a special event even more special. I remember one Christmas we woke up in the morning, raced downstairs, and found sooty footprints trailing from the fireplace to the Christmas tree, winding back around to the plate of cookies. In the middle of the night my father had dirtied up his work boots, just so we could believe in Santa’s magic a little bit more.
My father is the strong silent type. His mere presence can calm you, like he is literally the anchor holding you in one place. He can look at a situation and, without saying a word, figure out the answer. He thinks everything through in his mind, and he always seems to know the right answer. I can call him crying hysterically about some minuscule thing that upset me. He’ll listen patiently on the other end while I get all my tears out. He’ll pause. Wait for me to be done. Then he’ll say something so simple and profound, that you wonder how you could have possibly missed it. (This, coincidentally, makes him impossible to contradict.)
For how calm my dad is, he is equally funny. His face really lights up when he laughs – you can just see his amusement. He has this big laugh, where he sucks in all of the air in his lungs and lets it out in one big string of barks. And he doesn’t just waste his laugh like some people. When he laughs, you know he means it. Sometimes when he thinks back to all of the stupid things we did as kids, he laughs so hard his laugh becomes a jolly chuckle, where his oxygen intake can’t keep up with his humor.
So, thank you Dad, for being such a strong and steady presence in my life. I always felt a bit smug when I compared my dad to others. I know that I'm where I am today because you gave me the strength and encouragement to run after my ambitions.You are kind and funny and beyond wise. I love you and Happy Father's Day.
|After one of our many Sylvania camping trips.|
|At the Northwestern homecoming game in 2009.|
|Ending our camping trip with a quick visit to Bonds Falls.|