I write to you not only has your daughter, but as one of many daughters who know the unique intricacies of the lessons only their fathers could teach them. I write to you because out of every helping hand I have received in this world, you receive the least amount of credit and praise for the things you do. You’ve always stood back and let me shine, only stepping in when I call for you, knowing you can’t be more than a short distance away. It’s time I use these words to pull you and every other remarkable father into the light you so deserve to be seen in. It’s time that light radiates on the genuine and extraordinary love only you could have shown me.
A father teaches his daughter many lessons about what it means to truly love and experience this life. One of the most critical understandings he can portray to the young eyes beaming up at him is the notion of how she should be treated. Dad, I remember everything. I remember being tucked in at night and kissed good-bye before you left for work. I remember every time my sister and I made you dress up in crowns and feather boas, and play with our dolls. I remember every piggy-back ride and backyard game. I remember every chocolate sundae and long talk shared on drives home from practices. I remember every time you selflessly did what I wanted, and never asked for anything in return. I remember every display of overwhelming patience and grace you showed me. I remember it all, because it lives in the heart of a daughter forever.
Often a dependable and trustworthy father figure can become a scarcity today, so for those of us blessed enough to be graced with one like you, we feel the strength of that presence. We watched the way you ran to get the car for us in the rain or wiped our tears away after a boy broke our hearts. We let those images engrave themselves on our young and transforming hearts as we grew into young women. We learned to love the way we were loved by you. We had high expectations because you set the bar high. We had high hopes because you taught us that love from another should be respectful, honest and encouraging. As a father, you taught so much more than a daughter could ever articulate.
Dad, you were the first man I ever loved. You held me, played with me, supported me and let me grow. Your patience, quiet notion of complete understanding and unwavering love made me the woman I am today. You believed in me first. You danced with me first. You gave me all I could have ever needed, because you gave me love. And by giving me love, you taught me what love is and also what it isn’t. You showed me that love is being strong and humble, while also loving one’s self enough to reach for the stars. Love is respect and support on all of life’s endeavors. You’ve packed up that red truck and brought me to every new adventure my heart needed to go on. You’ve held me tight and told me I could do anything.
One day you’ll walk me down the aisle to another man, chosen in the image of how you taught me to be loved. When I let go of your arm I hope you know that my heart is molded in the shape of the love you showed me. I hope you know I’m never really letting go because I know that through any stage I encounter or dream I decide to chase, you’re still back there watching me, and waiting for my call. I know that in my heart there is no love like the first love, and that part of me will always belong to my dad.