We don’t get to choose our parents. We can’t look down from wherever we are in the universe and pick out the ones we think would be the parents who play boardgames. Parents who have impromptu water gun fights when they get home from a long day’s work. Parents who drive you to school and pick you up with your favorite fast food burgers waiting in the passenger seat. Ones who show up to every recital holding a bouquet of flowers or athletic meets cheering the loudest.
No, not all of us have that luxury. More importantly, not all girls have the privilege of getting a father who pays attention to them. One who helps with homework or says, “Go ‘head!” When they ace a test. Or sneak you a honey bun for breakfast and whisper conspiratorially, “Don’t tell your mama.” Not many of my classmates knew my dad growing up. They probably didn’t even think I had one! He was always away for work. Always driving to and from Houston (where we lived) and whatever far off place that might as well have been another country in my childlike mind. He missed a lot of things. Missed out on a lot of things. But what he never did – not once – was make me feel unloved or fail to be truly present when he was home.
My dad was/is the dad who used the time he had with us wisely. He didn’t come home and make excuses that he was too tired. Even though he was. He wasn’t the dad to play dress up or dolls, but I learned to shoot a bb gun in my backyard using water balloons stapled to our fence. I learned about football and fishing and watched how he meticulously applied the decals to our Barbie cars.
My dad knows no stranger – nor a good joke. He thinks swim trunks are appropriate attire for a restaurant and renames just about anything that seems too complicated… if you know him… you know what I mean. He’s also one of the few people I have ever known, that has no enemies. The man can’t even retire because people love to work with him. My dad had very little growing up and made no complaints. He began his own business, married the woman he loved and provided for his family in the most humble and fulfilling way. When people say someone is the type to “give someone the shirt off their back”… He’s the man where the description originated. He supported my dreams and caught me when I fell… SOooooo many times, never embarrassing me about my poor choices. I think this is one of the many reasons I – to this day – seek his approval. I always need to know he’s proud, because a dad’s opinion is sometimes the only one that matters.
One thing I appreciate most is that, although I lived a very good life and wanted for nothing- I absolutely was provided things MANY people do not get – I never associated him with the “gimmes”. My dad was not the one to shove things at my sister and I in place of himself. That’s something I will never take for granted and that I always consider when raising my own children. I hope that we will always provide them with a full life, give them the important things they need and fun things they want, but never replace the quality time with too much ‘stuff’ that won’t matter to them years down the line.
For all of his flaws, and I’m sure my mother can pull out a phone book sized list of them! HA! He is one of the kindest, most loyal, generous and warm people you could ever meet. He doesn’t care about brands or showing off a fancy car… he took pride in sending his daughters to college. His dream was what my sister and I have now… happy, healthy, fulfilling lives of our own, and independently. All he ever asks is for a good poop joke every once in a while and Joe’s Crab Shack twice a year. There aren’t many people like him left in the world and I can’t even properly express how lucky I am that I get to have that kind of rare human be mine.
I know I chose the good man I married because I had the right example set for me. I knew what I deserved and what kind of person I wanted to have as my husband and the father of my children. Someone ambitious and kind. Someone who laughs easily and leaps cautiously but with purpose.
And as wonderful as he was as a dad, he has slid into grandfatherhood with the ease and grace of a baby deer learning to walk – insanely goofy but adorable.
So here’s to you, old man, for being everything and not having to say a word about it. Not that you could… I’m still not even sure you can read… But you’ve do a ‘dern’ good job at this whole Dadding thing!
Happy Father’s Day!
And here’s a recipe he’d probably never eat.
Lightly Fried Chicken and Veggies
4 thin sliced chicken breasts
1 cup plain bread crumbs
1 egg white – 1 tbsp water whisked together
4 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp rubbed sage
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
4-5 tbsp olive oil (maybe more depending)
1 lb brussel sprouts – cut in half longways
2-3 carrots, peeled and sliced to about 1/4 inch thick
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp thyme
1-2 tbsp olive oil
- Preheat oven to 425. Toss brussel sprouts and carrots in 1-2 tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic powder, salt, pepper and thyme and toss again. Place on roasting sheet and bake for 25 mins.
- Heat olive oil in large cast iron skillet. Mix together bread crumbs, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, rubbed sage, paprika, salt and pepper. Coat chicken in flour, dip in egg white wash and coat in bread crumb mixture. Place in hot oil and fry 4-5 mins each side.