Since my Mother's Day post was dedicated to the man who made me a mom, I think it's only fair that my Father's Day post is dedicated to the man who made me.
My dad is the best.
The best dad. The best cheerleader. The best chef. The best chauffeur. The best teacher. The best builder.
The. Best. Dad.
My earliest memories with my dad are three things – hide-and-seek, "chalking" and wrestling. Hide-and-seek and "chalking" go together because every day when my dad came home from work I would hide. Once he found me we would "chalk" on the chalkboard in my room. Wrestling was just that – wrestling. Full out, rumble tumble, no holds barred wrestling that always resulted in me laughing like a maniac and sometimes laughing so hard I peed (it’s a thing with me – if you cause it, you're special). ;0
My dad taught me a lot about being a good spouse by the way he treated my mom. I don't mean chocolates and flowers and presents (though he did those things, too) - I mean by what he did every day. My mom went back to school long after my parents were married. My dad not only supported her decision to finish her degree, he took on all sorts of extra responsibility when she did her student teaching. I was in first grade. My mom had to be out the door before the sun was up to make the hour long drive to the neighboring town where she was a student teacher. It meant that my dad was in charge of me in the morning. I had a long, curly, unruly head of hair and he did his best to make something out of it, which was hilarious. He often let me dress myself, which was awesome! Breakfast was usually fabulous, because he's a great cook. I looked like a little hippie and gained a ton of weight that year because I ate hot lunch every day but I was happy. I knew my parents loved me and I knew they loved each other by the way they treated each other.
My dad always supported everything I wanted to do. When I was little I was quite the performer. I loved singing and dancing. Today, when people ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up I say, "Joan Jett. Madonna. Janet Jackson." I wasn't necessarily gifted in these areas, but you would have thought I was by the way my dad supported my constant performances. Whether they were in our family room or on a public stage, he was always there cheering me on.
It was the same with sports. I wasn't very athletic but I played almost everything and my dad was there tossing a softball, shooting baskets, bumping a volleyball and whooping and hollering in the stands when I was on the field or the court. He always made me feel like I could do and be whatever I wanted and whatever I dreamed.
Speaking of sports – my dad was also the guy who always took my entire softball team out for ice cream after our games. This was back in the "good ol' days" when we all piled in the back of the pickup with no regard for seat belts and safety and squealed with joy every time he gunned the engine or went over a big bump. Everyone loved my dad because he was THE BEST.
He also taught me how to build things. I helped with lots of different projects and one of the best was making a really cool fort in our back yard. It was a teeny, tiny space but my friends and I thought it was a palace. Dad always gave us supplies and tools to add on to it, and was the first to tell us how awesome our new creations were.
My dad taught me about loving and caring for animals. He brought home Marka (a puppy) when he and mom were newlyweds. He loved that dog. I mean he LOVED that dog. We had tons of cats (and a rabbit) when I was little but dad LOVED Marka. The first time I saw him cry was when she died. We never had another dog.
Of course there were lots of tears – that's life. But Dad always laughed. Never a fake, polite, trying to make someone else happy laugh...but a full out belly laugh. The kind of laugh that makes other people laugh. The laugh that makes you cry. The laugh that makes you pee. You know what I mean. It's priceless.
My dad taught me the value of hard work and earning a living. I earned an allowance for all sorts of things around the house when I was little and later I babysat for a number of families we knew. It was my dad who took me to the Chuck Wagon Restaurant to interview for my first "real" job when I was fifteen. I was terrified. Dad said, "Just be yourself". I had no idea what that meant, but it's what I did and when I left I was offically a waitress. After that I was a waitress for several years at a number of different places in a number of different cities and "just being myself" always served me well.
It still does.
When I think about all the ways my dad has influenced my life, the most important is probably that very early advice. "Just be yourself." I haven't always heeded it. In fact, sometimes I did the very opposite because I was so insecure and so sure that people wouldn't like the real me. Now I know there's no other way to be.
Thank you, Dad. I love you so much. Happy Father's Day.
Originally published by Erin Kiernan via Facebook June 18, 2017