"It's only when you grow up, and step back from him or leave him for your own career or your own home-- it's only then that you can measure his greatness and fully appreciate it" ~Margaret Truman
I stole this quote from my mom, but I don't think she'll mind. :)
When I read this particular quote, it really rang true for me. Maybe it's just because when you're little (and blessed as I was to have your family that loves you all together) you just don't think about what your Daddy means to you. He's just always there. Always taking care of things. Always doing what needs to be done. You know that all you have to do is ask, and he will find a way to take care of any problem that comes up... because that's what daddies do.
In 1986 when I came into this world, I'm not sure my Daddy knew quite what to do with me. One of my very favorite photos (that I wish I had access to right now so I could share it), is when I was a super tiny and super new baby, and my sweet Daddy is holding me with this look on his face like I'm going to break at any moment. It's a look on his face that shows care and gentleness that he was obviously not quite accustomed to, and it's also a look that gave a glimpse into what he would always be for me-- a protector, provider, and a rock for me.
When I was a little older, since I didn't have a sibling until I was 5 and it wasn't until I was 7 that I had a brother, I tried to be everything Daddy could want. I knew men wanted sons, so I tried to be that for him too. It might have annoyed him some of the time, but I followed him around like a puppy dog when he did "guy stuff" like working on things around the house or riding in the truck to go pick up fencing and whatnot. I just wanted to be where he was, learning about the things he was doing. He never showed me if it bothered him. He was patient with me and taught me all about different tools and how to figure things out. (And I must say that it was pretty darn good training for the life I lead today since I often have to do "guy work" if I want things to function at home.)
As my little brother got a little older, he became "Daddy's boy." I probably would have had my feelings a little hurt had I not been turning into a teenager. At 13 or so, it's not always "cool" to be with your Dad all the time, so I started doing what most teenagers do-- retreating into my room and trying to find "privacy." All through my middle and high school years I feel like I took my Daddy for granted. I certainly didn't do it on purpose, but looking back, I know I did.
My daddy has worked hard my whole life to give me the things I needed and wanted. He and my mom sent me to a good school, bought me the clothes I needed, got me a car to drive, and helped me with gas until I finished college. I don't know where my younger self thought all that came from, but I know I didn't give him enough credit.
After a day at the lake...
Sometimes my Daddy isn't the best at showing emotion, but there are two days in particular that stand out, and that proved to me in my mind that this man loves me more than I can imagine. The first was when I moved away to college for the first time. As a freshman, I brought entirely too much, but Mama and Daddy just helped me move everything into my room and get it set up. After everything was set up and when they were getting ready to go, I was too excited to be sad about the hugs good-bye. Then, I saw my Daddy's eyes. He hugged me really quick and turned and walked out pretty fast. It wasn't fast enough, though, because I saw him tearing up and swallowing hard. When he left, I sat and cried for a little while because I knew just how much we were going to miss each other and that nothing would ever be the same.
The second day that really stands out was my wedding day. After walking me down the aisle and answering "Her mother and I do" when asked who was giving me away, I saw the water in his eyes again. It was probably the hardest part of that wonderful day... knowing I was leaving my Daddy's house.
I might have left his house, but I think now we are closer than we've been since I was 7 and tagging along at his heels. We talk on the phone a lot, and I am always happy to see his name and picture pop up on my phone's caller ID. He's still my rock even thousands of miles away.
Now that I think it's safe to say I'm pretty much "grown up," since I'm married and living on my own, I can see so clearly the sacrifices this man made for me and my brother and sister. I don't think I could ever thank him enough for all he's done for me. All I can do is say thank you, take pleasure in our almost-every-other-day phone calls, and enjoy every minute together on visits. I only hope my Daddy knows how much he means to me and how much I appreciate him.