Today is Father's Day, and I was thinking about my Dad and all the other men in my life who encouraged me to be the person I am today.
First, Daddy - Happy Father's Day. There are moments in my life where I can look back and know without doubt that my thought process about something or someone changed in the blink of an eye. Well a few months ago when mom called to say you were in the emergency room, in Boone, NC, and they thought you had a heart attack - that was just one of those moments. The fact that you did have a heart attack and had to have 3 cardiac stents really made me think. Since I was a little girl I have looked at my family as hero's in so many ways, more immortal than human. It was in that moment when talking to mom, you became so human that my heart had to grasp that to be human meant you could have died. (I know it wasn't your time but..) This was no easy thing to ponder. When you came home from the hospital I was/and still am thankful that you were home! When I think about what you mean to me several things come to mind - far to many to name, but there are a few.
*you never said I couldn't do something just because I was a girl - you always told me to do my best at whatever I wanted to do, and if you knew how to do it you showed me.
*you never limited my access to ideas, tools, etc...if there was a way we figured it out.
*even when you didn't agree with me, you always loved me...
*you encouraged me to learn everything I could possibly learn and not stop learning, that if I wanted I could learn something new everyday.
* showed me what hard work powered by sweat and determination will get you, and I will never be ashamed of a callous or a blister from working hard, as I am not afraid of it!
*and you have shown the power of conviction and personal growth, and not to be afraid to re-evaluate where you are in this life, and if necessary make changes, say your sorry, form new opinions.
Daddy, Thanks for those things and much, much, more...It hasn't always been sunshine and roses now has it, but I think because of the qualities you have helped instill in me, I am the women I am today. I can say with confidence, love, and a sense of pride, "I'll always be your little girl."
I have to pause here for a moment and mention other family members who reinforced/reinforces those same principals and qualities that my dad did/does to this day. Some are still with me others have passed away.
My grandpa (my mom's dad) - He was a saw miller by profession, but by the time I came along he had long since retired. He was in his late 60's before I was even in Kindergarten. However, if I wasn't with my parents, you could almost bet I was with my grandparents (after they moved back up to NC from FL). My grandpa even though he was from a different generation (ie women couldn't vote when he and my grandma got married). He never discouraged me in anything I want to try. He never said you can't do "X" because that's not for women. I never heard him say an unkind word, the worst thing I ever heard him say was, "Darn it, Ruth" one time to my grandma, and believe me, my grandma's words that day were a bit more colorful. Though I don't think he ever told me but once that I can remember, that he was proud of me, I always new he was, and I always knew he loved me. I miss him, and now that we just moved into their home place, I find myself missing him and appreciating all the stuff he taught me more and more!
My Uncle Doc - he is married to my dad's sister, and he is our family Dr. - He also mirrors the same qualities as my dad and my grandpa. He would write to me daily when I was deployed, he too had been in the Army. I remember when I got back from the 1st Gulf War in '91. My uncle knew I loved computers (as in 83' or so I could always be found on the TRS-80's at the school (8th grade), or in his office, or when his daughter would bring hers in. He knew I was getting to work with all this wonderful systems in the Army and wanted to encourage me to buy one. So the 1st thing we did was hop in his car and drive to the Sam's Club in Spartanburg, SC where I purchased my very own computer. There were 3 boxes, Monitor, CPU, and the printer and they were so big they took up the entire car! Far cry from the way they are today. Again, he never said I couldn't do anything I wanted to and he to this day still encourages me to learn and do anything I can!
My Uncle Lawrence, my grandpa's brother. - before my grandparents moved back home from FL, I would spend time with my grandpa's brother and his wife. Now there was a pair. They were cornerstones in our little community. My uncle was an educator/teacher. He was also Army veteran. He used to encouraged me to get involved in the community. They lived right across the street from the Volunteer Fire Station in our community and when there was a fire they walked across the street and unlocked the doors and helped have everything ready when the volunteers would show up to head to the fire, as every second counts. I remember a day when I got to carry the keys over and unlock the doors. I felt so empowered and strong! (to a kid under the age of 10 that was a huge responsibility) He would encourage me to take every opportunity and talk to the people of our community, and get to know them. He would encourage me to learn songs to sing in front of people, give me speeches to memorize and important historical figures to read about then have me present my findings to a group of people (early public speaking). He made sure if there was something that was happening in the community and I wanted to help, he would give the contacts my name and he even made me speak for myself; he never spoke for me. If I wanted to do something, I had to tell them what I wanted. He too, never said, what my place was in this world was but rather he encouraged me to find it for myself, and make it my own. All of these things he showed me before I was even 12 years old.
My husband - (I'll write more about him in the husband role on our anniversary :-) ) What an awesome dad he is to our two kids! He is great. He tries very hard to never travel on there birthdays. He shows them just a special they are and that they can accomplish anything. He encourages them both to try new things, and never separates what they can and can't do by gender, but by age appropriate and their personal abilities. He is fair, thought life is not. He does his best to prepare them for whatever life may throw at them, with honest life experiences. He acknowledges faults and is never afraid to say I'm sorry. Yet, most of all they know that no matter what they say or do, they are loved, unconditionally. (and when they are teenagers there are times when they (didn't we all) push those boundaries that sometimes you think how do I get through all this. Well I think it is with lots of humor and even more love. Thanks Pete for taking time always to show the kids just how important they are! You are an awesome dad too!
Thank you all for giving me the courage to just be me. Face things head on, not be fail sometimes and learn from it, get back up and try again and to never be afraid to say, "Let me do this" or "I can do that too."! Thank you for always encouraging me to seek goodness, truth, and to be a positive change wherever possible, but be open enough to realize I can learn from everyone. That is world is not fair and if I don't like something I have the power to change it. Thanks for loving me no matter what.
So, Happy Fathers Day to all the Dad's out there, and most especially to Daddy, Uncle Doc, and Peter - I hope your day today is as special as your are!