We sure have been through a lot.
I always was a daddy’s girl. I remember all of the times in the garage helping you with your dragsters. I’m not really sure how much help I really was. Maybe I was more in the way, and you were just gracious enough to put up with it. I am grateful. I know what tools do what. I will never forget the day that mom wasn’t able to be at the track with us. I got to go out on the track with you and David. My heart was pounding, and I was terrified that I would somehow mess up. My shoes were sticking to the track from all of the tar and burnt rubber. It was exhilarating to get the opportunity to be ON a racetrack. To be on the track as part of your “pit crew” was awesome! Watching from the sidelines was awesome, too, but something about being on the track felt like magic.
We have many fishing memories. Waking up super early on a Saturday is the last thing that I wanted to do, unless it involved going fishing. Whether it be on the shore at Ray’s pond, at the dam, or on a boat on Lake Shelbyville. Even the days we didn’t catch much were fun. But, the days we did catch a lot, watch out! We caught thirty or more fish one day and had a park ranger stop to talk to us. His interest sure did peak when I told him how many we caught. “And, how many did you keep?” I believe we had 12? Possibly more. That boat had an engine that was bigger than necessary, and we sure did test it out. “Hold on tight” as the boat goes flying out of the water. I never knew that I had the strength to crush a Dr. Pepper can with one hand. I’m sorry that there wasn’t any left for you to drink. I was probably wearing most of it.
You and mom were always so supportive. You both did everything in your power to show up to every performance that we ever had. Having you travel all over the midwest to go to show choir performances meant so much to me. The year that we traveled to Disney, and you bravely agreed to be one of the chaperones for 50+ teenage girls was a blast. You went on all of the rides with us. You bought all of my meals and I was able to use my meal money to buy a sweatshirt from Italy. Epcot Italy, but I was still excited!! Who would ever think that a fifteen year old girl would be thrilled to have her dad accompany her on a trip with friends?
You were tough on me also. You didn’t let me get away with anything. I remember a day that you said that you’ve wondered if you were too hard on us when we were young. Dad, we would not be who we are today without your tough love. The rules set for us kept us out of trouble. They kept us safe. They probably kept a lot of creep guys away, too. Having you greet every one of our dates in the basement while cleaning your guns was always fun. They knew our dad meant business, and that they had to treat us with respect. I know that we butted heads a lot when I was a teenager. That’s probably because I am just like you. I know that because I butt head with the child who is most like me. 😉
I never thought I would cry so much when I moved away from college. I couldn’t wait to be out of the house. Then, reality hit and I just wanted you and mom to stay with me. I am thankful that you gave me the opportunity to go to college out of state. It prepared me for these years of living away. Of course, I wish we were closer.
When I found out you had to have open heart surgery, I wanted to be closer. I wanted to be there to help in some way. I was an emotional wreck, so I probably would have just been in the way and gotten on your nerves. It was the longest day of my life; waiting to find out that you were alive and going to be ok. You kept saying that you were going to make it through. I kept saying that you better.
When I got the text from Amy that you were being taken to the hospital because of a possible stroke, I didn’t want to stay put anymore. We got in the car the next day and drove straight to the hospital. I wanted to surprise you and mom. Amy and Amanda knew we were coming. I will never forget walking into the room and you talking to me as if I were Amy. You couldn’t see over the shoulder that you looked. When you sat down and realized who I was, you said “Boy, I must be in bad shape if you are here.” I knew you weren’t in bad shape. I needed to hug my dad. I knew that my dad needed his family together.
Then comes a cancer diagnosis. I mean, can we just not have any more? I am so thankful that cancer’s butt got kicked in less than a year. If we harass you about taking care of yourself, it’s not because we want to annoy you. We love you. We want you around for a very long time- healthy and happy.
You have always been there for me, Dad. You and mom drop everything to come when you are needed. You both gave up so much for us over the years. You both gave all of us girls an incredible childhood full of MEMORIES. I just hope that I can live up to all of that.
I love you, Dad. Even though this birthday definitely isn’t an ideal one, I sure hope that you have a wonderful day. I am so glad that you were able to come visit last week. It meant the world to me to have you here, if only for a few hours and some sleep.
Your favorite daughter 😉