Last Father's Day, I wasn't sure how long my Daddy had to live. I spent the church service crying, because I wasn't sure how long I had with Dad, and I was 700 miles away.
Today, I am still 700 miles away, but DAD IS CANCER FREE and I am working towards a move back up north.
I know not everyone is as blessed as me.
Because my Dad is still alive. Because even though he was not there in person every day of my growing up, I still knew I was loved, and I knew he was working his hardest so I could have a life worth something. So I could have all the opportunities he didn't.
When I was a kid, my Dad used to joke about me being his favorite. I know it was a joke, but I believed it then. (Sometimes I still do). Even though his English was not great, my Dad came to every parent-teacher conference. He was my date to my 8th grade banquet, and I remember he had tears in his eyes when I received my awards.
Even though he has always been quick to talk me down when I am out of hand (overly emotional, overly angry), he has also always been quick to build me up, and tell me I can do anything in the world. When he didn't agree with my decision to marry Gabe, he told me so. When time passed, and he realized he had been wrong, he told me so.
My Dad is amazing. There's no one else like him.
When I met Gabe, I clashed headfirst with his Dad, Bill. Oh.my.word. I think I argued more with him during my first month of marriage than I did with Gabe.
I can't tell you how many times I uttered the words, "Gabe, I can't stand your Dad!" Probably as many times as he uttered the words, "Gabe I can't stand your wife!"
About a year and a half ago, I was laying on the couch when Gabe's phone rang. It was his Dad. When Gabe attempted to hand the phone to me, I said, "No, thanks!"...but the conversation that followed wasn't what I expected. Even though he had no reason to (because I was just as responsible for the lack of a relationship there), Bill apologized to me.
Over the past year, I have had some serious heart-to-hearts with Bill. When I was in the middle of panic attack city over my Dad's transplant, Bill took time out of his day to spend HOURS on the phone with me, to calm me down and just to lend an ear. We don't agree on everything, but I couldn't think of a better person for me to have as a father-in-law.
My father-in-law rocks. There's nobody like him.
When Gabe and I became parents for the second time, to our first living child, he told me, "I am going to suck at fatherhood."
I promise you, he doesn't suck at fatherhood. Gabe has taken fatherhood and made it his own. Two Christmases ago, I was having the hardest time because I was missing Riley and it was just rough. Christmas morning, after Ella had opened the last gift, I noticed another present under the tree. It was for Riley Grace. Gabe had found given her (and Ella, by proxy) his favorite childhood book, "The Lion's Bed."
Gabe has introduced Ella to Star Wars (yep) and Indiana Jones and for her sixth birthday, he gave her a pocket knife. She inherited his great love for photography and he can make her laugh harder than anybody I know.
Gabe works a lot, so he is not one of those Dads that can drop everything on a dime. My Dad wasn't either. But, Ella knows that Gabe loves her. He bought her a seashell necklace that she loves.
The other day, I overheard their talk about dating. "You're not allowed to date until you have your own car. That way, you can always leave." Good advice. From a dad who doesn't suck at fatherhood.
My husband is an amazing Dad. There is no one like him.