He and I, we go way back. I can remember him teaching me how to ride my bike. It was the bike that he surprised me with Christmas morning. I slept on the couch and it was there when I opened my eyes. He held on to the back of my seat until I slowly got the hang of balance.
And then there were all the times we went out to eat together. It feels like I was 5 when he taught me to go to the counter and politely ask for what I need. Usually extra sweet and sour sauce for my fries.
We mowed the grass together for hours every week, me on the riding tractor and him trimming. He taught me that, "Whatever you do, do it well".
My dad spent his middle aged working years saving for me to go to college. He always told me how important that was, and after high school graduation, he did what he said he would do. He sent me to college, and I got out debt free. What a gift!
I remember microwaved dinners, nothing fancy, but we ate them together on TV trays. I remember beach trips every summer and of course, icecream each night. I remember him checking my homework at night and being proud after parent teacher conferences.
We were buddies. I still marvel at his sacrifices.
And the story I keep coming back to took place in the mornings. He worked the night shift and I would sleep over at grandma and grandpas. I knew what time to be ready for him to swing by on his way home from work, so he could take me to school. But, I just couldn't wait to see him.
We bought walkie-talkies.
I could talk with him from a couple miles away and know that Dad was going to be there soon to pick me up. Every morning. Dad and I talking on walkie-talkies in Grandma's living room.
Pondering the past points to the present. Watching Dad with my children reminds me of all the sweet times we shared. He has such a big heart. I have to remind him the kids need consequences sometimes! ;)
Happy birthday Dad! Your 61 years have taught me to love big. You are strong and steadfast, and I admire that in you.