A couple years ago, I tried to keep a “gratitude journal” of something I was thankful for each day. After the first week, I was surprised to find that two whole entries (including the first one) were related to my dad spending quality time with me. Those dates to Golden Corral when I was in high school and those modern-day prolonged chats that we occasionally enjoy today have had such a lasting impact on me that they were at the forefront of my mind when I thought about my blessings. I talk a lot about the important role of motherhood, but fatherhood is an extremely high calling as well, and my dad has taken it seriously. Here are some things I love about him. (I wrote a tribute to my mom last year; click here to read it!)
I love how he has always had a sweet tooth. He’s the only person I know who checks the dates on Reese’s cups at Walmart to try to find the freshest in the store…or who has paid extra to get Reese’s cups shipped straight from the factory so they arrive only 72 hours old. He always has candy, he’s always offering candy, and the time he “quit sugar” still meant he had a little bit of candy after each meal. He knows how to savor a good donut, and he can spend twenty minutes telling me about how great that donut was…and I’m captivated the whole time.
That brings me to another thing I love about my dad: he’s an incredible storyteller. His stories are almost always about mundane things, like something interesting he saw at the mall or a cute experience he had with one of the kids. He has some extraordinary stories too, like when he rode his bike over an alligator’s neck and it snapped at him. He also makes up completely goofy fictional stories, which I enjoyed as a kid and my kids enjoy today.
I love how my dad garners deep respect from anyone who really knows him. When I go to bike races, I love telling anyone I meet in the biking community that “I’m Gary’s daughter.” (I feel a little embarrassed saying this, of course, because I literally have the biking skills of my 6-year-old son. On my best days.) Anytime I meet someone who knows him, they say, “Oh, Gary, he’s my man! I love that guy!” A good reputation is better than riches.
I love how he loves to tease. Once, when I had my learner’s permit, he offered me two dollars to not drive us to church on a particular morning. He still teasingly repeats regrettable things my brother and I have said. It makes us feel special that he listens and remembers. His teasing has never been mean-spirited or made me feel truly embarrassed. I just feel loved.
I love that my dad was so involved in the match-making of Peter and me. He wasn’t the shotgun-yielding, don’t-even-look-at-my-precious-girl type dad. He just always wanted me to be in a good relationship. He knew I was slightly obsessed with Peter, he suspected there were some reciprocated feelings, and when he heard Peter and I singing along to Christian hip-hop together he knew that we were a good pair. So he craftily made sure Peter was able to get to know me in the context of our family…and, well, now we’re happily married with a small army of kids. My dad never said “I’m going to facilitate a courtship” or anything like that; he just helped my husband and I fall in love. And he’s always offered me support as we’ve made all kinds of unpopular decisions (such as the aforementioned army of kids), and that’s been huge.
I love how he’s smart. He didn’t need college to figure out how to be a successful businessman and entrepreneur. He worked hard, but more importantly, he worked smart. He’s helped Peter and I tremendously as we try to figure out wise ways to deal with money, and I’m so grateful he taught us about the important stuff like life insurance, a Roth IRA, and, most of all, generosity.
I love how he loves my mom. He treats her with a great deal of thoughtfulness and respect, and he just makes it really clear that he treasures her, finds her beautiful, and wants to spend time with her. (She’s super awesome, so, I mean, it makes sense.) They go to the movies together to watch the latest kids flick, which is weird, but also great.
I love how he cares deeply about our family having a culture of togetherness and love. This comes from our West Virginia/Kentucky heritage for sure. Family is an extremely high value, and whatever we can do to glue our family together is priority. I have so many fond memories of him winning me stuffed animals at Busch Gardens, or of waking up early and watching TV together while it was still dark. Once he even got up at 4:30 am to take me to a Krispy Kreme grand opening because I wanted to be on the news (it didn’t work.) The security I’ve felt in my dad’s love for me has helped me have a really healthy self-esteem that I’ve always resolved I wanted my daughters to find in their dad too.
I guess I didn’t notice how much I love my dad and admire so many of his qualities until I realized I married a man who has so many of those same qualities too. Really, these are some characteristics of Jesus as well: childlikeness, humility, wisdom, generosity, affection…there are many ways that my dad shows me the who Jesus is, and I admire him lots and lots for it.
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My name is Hope.
I'm 25, married to a former skater dude, and raising little people ages 5, 3, 1, and not-yet-born. I like lime green and sarsaparilla, and I wear my Crocs until they melt. (Florida problems.)
Quick links to some of my posts:
Articles I've Written on Other Sites:
Youth Ministry's Family Blindspot - Christianity Today