Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Letter To A Daddy

My Dad turned 60....Somehow, that makes ME feel old. I remember being younger and thinking that 60 was very old. Very, very old. But I don't (and maybe I can't) see my dad that way. To me, he's the same guy who would wait up late until I got home from a school dance to make sure the lights were off and the doors locked. He's the guy who would let me tag-along with him on a special daddy-daughter trip to the hardware store (Lumbermen's had free popcorn on Saturdays!). He's the guy who would mow the lawn or work on his boat bright and early on a Saturday morning wearing his infamous cut-off jean shorts covered in paint splatters.

He's always had a quiet, steady manner but, at the same time, he can make anyone laugh. His actions were (and still are) always guided by a strong inner compass. He never failed to put us first. I remember believing he was the most reasonable and decent human on the planet. And I remember having complete faith that if he was ever in a predicament, he would 100% of the time do the Right Thing. Because he always did what was expected and decent and respectable and he did so with great self-discipline.

I learned a lot of things from my dad. One night, sitting with him out on the deck, he took a giant puff of his cigar and interrupted the chirping of crickets and croaking of frogs by pointing out to me, for the first time, the gentle curve of the Big Dipper. Right before my eyes, he transformed the random spackling of stars into organized pictures.

He taught me how to sand and stain a rocking chair. He taught me how to drive a boat. And he showed me that you can use duct tape to take off a wart.

But the most important thing he ever taught me was that hard work and committment could get you anything. One night, he tucked the covers of my Mickey Mouse comforter tight around me and gave me a goodnight kiss, his mustache tickling my forehead. He looked at me and solemnly said, "If you work hard enough, you can do anything you want to do." Seeing how hard he worked everyday, I believed it without hesitation.

He continued to explain to my seven year-old self that a long time ago (turns out it wasn't so long ago), girls like me couldn't work. We couldn't be doctors or lawyers or engineers. But now, we can do anything we want to do, whether that is to raise a family at home or work in the career of our choice. "You can be whatever you want to be when you grow up, if you work hard." ...

His phrase resonated with me for my entire youth. It carried me through my high school classes and, subconsciously, it guided my ambitious jaunt through college. It's why, upon graduating from undergraduate school one year early with a dual degree and as a varsity athlete, I decided that I wasn't done pushing myself. That summer, instead of enjoying my new status as a 21-year-old, I spent my days taking practice LSAT tests.  I didn't really know what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I knew my dad was a lawyer and I wanted to be like him. And that's why I went to law school.

I'm where I am today, all because HE made me believe that I could do ANYTHING.

He gave hope, ambition, and self confidence to a young girl. In doing so, he gave me everything.

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