I showed up to preschool without my clothes on backwards. Yes, you read that right. Apparently it was backwards day and we forgot. My buttons lined the front while everyone else's lined their back. I’m not sure why I remember this, but I do.
I remember the sheer panic and embarrassment as all these tiny humans with big round eyes stared at me. I looked up at you, probably with tears to say, "What do we dooooo?? Dad, you have to fix this."
And so you got to it. You helped me swap my clothes so I’d fit in with my class. You kept me calm. You diffused a serious situation for my four year old self. Of all the memories I have with you, this was my first of being your daughter.
And I’m fairly certain I knew, in the way you responded, in how you were genuinely concerned (even though the matter was really quite small) that you were a person who’d be there. That you’d remain through all the seasons. That there would be nothing I could say or do that would push you away.
I was right.
And while I didn’t know it then, I'd keep looking up to you for help and support, for the big and little stuff and you’d treat it all the same. It was all significant. All of it mattered to you.
When thinking of how to celebrate you, besides a warm apple pie, I thought of the things you've taught me over the past 28 years. I’ve learned a lot from you but these come to mind first.
- A hot toddy can cure most ailments. If you've never made one, go ahead and get started here.
- End the day with a really good song, turned up loud, and a cup of tea. Maybe a few graham crackers. And all shall be well.
- You must visit Ireland. Your heart will never be the same. And if you haven’t been, chances are my Dad would love to take you.
- When planning a trip, invite family to come. When hosting a gathering, make room for one more.
- Don’t wait for some perfect version of a man to fall in love with. It doesn't exist. Find the one who is willing to change and be better.
- You're never too old to pick out the biggest Christmas tree at the lot. And once that tree dries out, invite family & friends over for a bonfire.
- The key to making a perfect pancake every time -- the one that’s fluffy in the center and crunchy around the edges -- is butter. Always more butter.
- You are never above any kind of work. If part of your job is to sweep the floors and scrub the toilet, you do it. You show up the next day and you do it again.
- When your daughter straps a backpack to her back, almost as big as her body, and buys a one way ticket to Nicaragua, let her go. Let her discover that no amount of travel will ever cure the restlessness. She’ll have to figure this one out on her own.
- When your daughter returns from that trip and has a minor meltdown about a friend inviting her to get a pedicure because it just seems so lavish & unnecessary, don’t tell her to calm down, just hug her. Don’t tell her she’s acting crazy, just give her a hug.
- When you go out to eat, order a round of appetizers. Ask the server to kindly put in your dinner order once the apps are all done. Don’t rush a good thing like a meal around the table.
Here's to you Dad, I raise my glass. I'm so grateful for you & so proud of the man you're becoming. In the spirit of our favorite place on earth, I'll leave you with this: