Okay, So I wish that I could do this post justice with the appropriate collection of cutesy photos of my dad and I as I was growing up, but I can't because the majority of my childhood photo collection was destroyed when I went away to college, but I can tell you the following:
My earliest memory of my dad is the two of us walking home across a gravel drive. I am so small (seriously small!!) and I can see only my feet and our shadows. The audio is the quiet crunch crunch of the gravel as we approach the trailer, "C'mon Little Shrimp" his shadow says, just as his arm comes around and his hand lights on my shoulder. It is comforting, and endearing and at the same time amazing, I think we moved from that "house" when I was three. But I was always his "Little Shrimp". This memory bubbles up now and again when I look at my own kids, when I call them Miss H, or Cubby, Jango, and Lil Bit; when I push them on a swing, or fashion a ship out of cardboard boxes, I wonder.. is this the minute they are making their memory? Is this the time, the simple ordinary moment that will stay with them forever?
My Dad is one of those MacGuyver type people who can do just about anything with a hammer, duct tape and a coat hanger. While there was a period in my life when the homemade or off brand seemed inadequate I now recognize that this ingenuity, is a skill and a love that far outweighs the ability to purchase something.
My dad was my t-ball coach, and while I only played one season, (and I may not have been too great!!) He took it very seriously. I can still recall him jolting me from sleep one Saturday morning and asking me if I was ready to go. I answered no I 'm too tired, and went back to sleep. He did go. That was the first time I remember thinking that the world was bigger than just my family, than just me.
My dad is my biggest fan. I can't think of a track meet of mine he ever missed, the year I played volleyball in middle school, he came to every game even though I only got to play back row, and he took me toMcDonald's after every match. I loved that what I was doing was important to him. He didn't coach me, he didn't complain about my performance, he never insisted on a plan or talked strategy he was always just satisfied to watch and cheer.
When I got a scholarship to Wake, it was my dad that I called to say they were offering a full ride. It felt like a big victory for both of us.. I certainly haven't done this on my own I thought.
My dad, and his high standard but unconditional acceptance, is what gave me the confidence to move so far away and find such a great husband. When I coach, when I teach, when I play with my kids I think about how most of the things I attempt would be undone without my dad. Even my foray into polevaulting was his influence. (I saw an old home movie of him vaulting, on a bamboo "pole" into a pit of hay as an eighth grader.) This is my legacy a love that instills confidence in the recipient, allowing them to grow and change and love and give generously and unexpectantly. The kind of love that is what you need when you need it, and not the answer to your whim or desire.
So of course, I did marry a great man, and guess what, he turned out to be the same sort of doting, but fair dad. Exactly the right balance of fun, discipline, and adoration.
Finally, but most importantly, like every other: This is the day that the Lord has made, Let us rejoice and be glad in it. None of these amazing dads would be possible without Our Father in Heaven, and that is what I challenge everyone to remember today. Let us celebrate the joy of Fatherhood, both of being a father and having a father, but let us remember that the this joy is but a morsel of the joy that comes from knowing your Father in Heaven.