I was sitting in church this morning during the Father’s Day tribute thinking about how much I appreciate my Daddy. He died forever ago in 1991. The gifts he gave me will live on…in me, my children, and their children. I grabbed the church bulletin and started scribbling my thoughts. I share them with you.
I grew up believing I could do or be anything I wanted.
Where did that come from?
Quick story: When I was five, I wanted to be to grow up and be a horse. Not just any horse. Roy Roger’s horse, Trigger. My brother wanted to be Roy Rogers. Yes, I’m dating myself. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Roy Rogers, he was King of the Cowboys in old Western movies. Trigger, his horse, was magnificent. I wanted to be just like him!
Side note: If you watch this movie of Trigger racing, leaping over barriers, and rearing against danger, it may explain a great deal about me.
Back to the story: It never dawned on me that I couldn’t be a horse. And the really cool thing is, my parents never ONCE sat me down to give me “the reality check.” I’m sure they giggled over their little horse-girl. But I was never aware of it, if they did. At some point, I changed my mind about being Trigger, but I don’t remember when. I’m sure some other exotic “personality” inspired my imagination. Probably Robin of the Batman/Robin Duo. Who knows. (I never really had girl heroes, did I?) Here’s my point, though:
I have NO traumatic memories from being told what I COULDN’T be.
I’m truly blessed. I had wonderful parents. Mother was my best friend. But Daddy? He was simply larger than life itself. He could do no wrong in my eyes. He was the big, strong fortress where I was always safe.
Daddy was my Knight-in-Shining-Armor!
What made him so special? Here are the characteristics I jotted down at church:
- Unconditional love: I knew I could never do anything that cost his love. Never, EVER, under any circumstances! I can’t begin to describe the security in knowing this truth.
- Laughter: Daddy’s sense of humor kept us laughing even in tight spots. He was the life of the party. He showed us how to laugh at ourselves and enjoy life to the fullest.
- Support: He allowed me room to try new ideas and fail. I never heard a harsh word or criticism for poor choices. Instead, he offered a helping hand to lift me up if I stumbled, and a strong arm around my shoulders to steady me if I wavered.
- Time: He always had time for me, even if that meant canceling appointments to be available for school events. He allowed me go to work with him if he worked on a Saturday. He played ball with me in the backyard, and built elaborate car racing ramps on the dining room table (though Mother wasn’t thrilled).
- Strength: His shoulders were broad and strong. He could carry any burden I brought him. I never saw him wince. Not once.
- Trust: He gave me the gift of trust. I didn’t have to earn it. Because he gave it freely, I worked even harder to preserve it.
- Fairness: Daddy made decisions that always felt just and fair. He never dealt punishment out of anger, but made reasoned choices that we clearly understood – whether or not we liked them. (Once Daddy bought a go-cart for my brother and me. We fought so much over who got what turn that Daddy returned the go-cart. We begged him to give us another chance, but he stood firm — hard lesson in learning to share.)
- Expectations: He challenged me to excel, but not in a pressure-cooker way. He gave me jobs to do, assuming I would succeed. With the twinkle in his eye and his reassuring nod, I never questioned that I would get it right.
- Faith: Daddy was my guidepost. My true North. Every problem I had, he pointed me to the Bible for answers. He walked the talk, and gave me Truth. I SO thank him for it!
Daddy was my shield and defender!
I never once questioned whether Daddy had my back. He was EVER spring-loaded to protect me — no matter what. On many occasions, I literally had to stop Daddy at the front door and beg him to let me take care of the problem. He couldn’t bear to see me hurt. He stood down — if I asked, and let me work it out my own way. That’s tough for any parent. I know, now that I’m a parent myself.
I truly believe Daddy’s unwaivering support gave me two mighty life-weapons:
Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence!
He raised me to value what I have to offer, and instilled confidence that I can successfully complete what I start – despite strong opposition, of which I am well acquainted.
Another story: Years ago, not long after Daddy died, I found myself in an emotional crisis. I didn’t know what to do. I sat down on the floor and broke down in tears, wishing Daddy were here to help me. I began to imagine the conversation I would have with Daddy, and how he would try to charge in and take down the bad guys. I stopped him, in my imagination, telling him I needed to fight my own battles. Then it hit me! I didn’t need Daddy after all. He’d given me all the tools I needed to resolve my crisis. He’d prepared me for battle my entire life. I laughed, stood up, and faced my fears head on, just like I would if Daddy were by my side.
His readiness to fight for me planted seeds of courage to grow shiny new armor for my own battles.
Thanks Daddy! You’re the best Knight-in-Shining-Armor I could EVER have. I hope other fathers can learn from you. You have much to teach them. And, I hope my little list helps.