As we come upon another Father's Day weekend, I find myself stopping to think about my dad and how much I will miss spending this special day with him. However, I was very lucky to have had more than five decades with him and I am thankful for every one of them. Unfortunately, my 26-year-old daughter has not been as fortunate. This July 11 we will mark the 14th anniversary of her dad passing away due to an accident and instead of being mad at the world for losing him, she is thankful for each and every day they had together.
I am both proud and privileged today to share with you a blog she has written about Father's Day. In it, she writes, in the way only she can, about the dad who gave her life and the dad that now shares her life. I hope you will enjoy the read and best wishes for a very happy Father's Day to all of the dads out there.
Every year, I spend a significant amount of time standing aimlessly in the greeting card aisle trying to hold myself together. I don't have the same problem at Mother's Day -- it takes me a few minutes to find one that says everything I want to say and inevitably, I always find the one that makes my mom cry. Come Father's Day, I have to make several trips and usually the first few are total failures.
I find myself standing in the aisle, watching little girls and grown women alike easily pick out cards with no hesitation. I fight back tears when they find the perfect one and get angry when they remark, "Oh, this one will do. Whatever." These girls have no idea how lucky they are to still be able to give their dad a card and watch the reaction form on his face as he reads it. I would give just about everything in my life to have my dad open one more Father's Day card from me, give me a kiss on the forehead and thank me for being such a great daughter.
When it's finally time for me to pick one out, I have to wade through the ones that thank their dad for everything he did for them when they were little and find the ones that fit my current father-daughter relationship, one that I am so lucky to have, given everything that has been taken away from me.
Most girls only get one amazing dad in their lifetime, but I was lucky enough to get two. I spent the first 12 ½ years of my life with a dad that made me the woman I am today -- smart, goofy, appreciative, loving and motivated with an ability to live each day as if it's my last. Even though he's gone and I miss him every day, I know he's with me because I wouldn't be me without him. I have now spent the last 11 years (and counting) with my step-dad and I couldn't have asked for anyone better if you had given me a wish list to create one! We're so eerily alike that sometimes people think he and I are related and my mom is the step-parent!
I still struggle with calling him 'dad' and instead lovingly give him nicknames instead, but he's never been bothered by that. He has never tried to replace my dad, but over the years, that's what he's become to me. He hugs me when I need it, pokes fun at my mom with me when she deserves it, watches bad television with me, tells me he loves me (the feeling is mutual, don't worry!) and celebrates every milestone just as any dad would. This is the 'dad' that's going to walk me down the aisle when I get married, be the grandpa to my kids and proudly look on as I get older and my life changes.
I could easily sit back and dwell on what I don't have anymore, and I'll be honest, I have those moments around Father's Day. I throw myself a little pity party, have a good cry and let my heart ache for who's not there, but always feel better once I get to my parent's house to have our yearly Father's Day dinner. I remember how lucky I am to have this wonderful man in my life, on the couch with a beer watching Nascar while the food's on the grill and remember that if I focus too much on who's not there, I'll miss quality time with who still is.
Even though your family dynamic may have changed and you may be missing someone important in your life, all it takes is a quick look around to remind yourself of all the great people that you can still hug, joke around with and love unconditionally. Anniversaries and occasions may be difficult, but instead of focusing on the negative, use those days to celebrate the person you're missing and remember all the great things about them that you would have celebrated if they were still here. They may be gone, but they're never forgotten and they're always looking out for you.
Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there -- on Earth and in our hearts.
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