Blondie and her Beau are headed out of state this morning. His grandpa passed away last night after a fierce battle with the big ‘C’. Not exactly the best way to spend a Father’s Day, but it has me thinking just how short life is and how much we should tell people what they mean to us.
I was Daddy’s little princess from the get-go. Whatever I wanted, I knew Daddy was the one to ask. It didn’t matter if I was asking for an elephant or to double-pierce my ears. My dad was sure to make it happen. My parents went through a rough divorce, and then we moved 3 hours away and for a stretch, I didn’t get to see my dad as much as I wanted to. But I would sit on my bed and daydream about him. When I got married, I told my husband I wouldn’t live more than an hour’s drive from my dad ever again. And I’m so glad I said that. He’s such an awesome Poppa. He takes my kids fishing and talks to them about their plans for the future and his generosity puts Santa Claus to shame. More than that, no matter how tough life gets- or how hard it is to face some situations, I know I can call him. We’ve let each other down once or twice, but the rebound only made us stronger. I might be 41, but I’m still a Daddy’s girl.
The Un-Sung Hero
The old Marine was a little rough around the edges. Sometimes he was hard on us and there were moments when he was impossible to understand. He had scars hidden beneath the surface. The older I get, the more I search my memory for the best of times. He pushed me. He forced me to see my intelligence. He rooted for me. And he gave everything he ever had to give. He was the best Easter Bunny on the face of the earth. You can’t understand the heartache of a step-parent until you become one. Sometimes, you have to take the back seat or sit in the shadows and it’s not an easy task. Yet, he was always willing to do it. He honored my love for my father, and that’s important. He was a big part of my life growing up. On my wedding day, we danced to “The Wind Beneath My Wings.” It was the only time I think I really told him how much he did to lift me up. As a grandpa, he really shined. And the moment he passed away, I finally understood the words: Rest in Peace.
A Wise Old Owl
I called my grandpa Softy. He tried to act stern once, but it went against his nature. He turned going to the bank into an exciting field trip. We made bagel pizzas together long before they appeared in the frozen food section of the grocery store. We planted cactus in seashells. We went crabbing at the jetty. His magic tricks are still a secret and his riddles are still unsolved. We shared a birthday, a story I’ve told a hundred times. He re-negotiated my curfew a few times. And he told me once that I changed him forever. He said “before you, I was Wesley, Mr. Pyle, Colonel, Dad, or Sir. After you, I was only Softy.” I hold on to that sentence as proof that grandchildren are the greatest joy in life. I still miss him every day, and when things get tough and the world seems dark, I ask myself, “what would Softy tell me now?” And then I know what to do. I believe he visits me in my dreams, and when they come, I don’t want to wake up. I just want to talk to him for hours. His best ghost story was The Golden Arm, and I still try to retell it.
My Baby Daddy
I knew I’d marry my husband on our very first date. He was so silly. I could see his was big-hearted. I knew that if I raised my kids with this man, they’d always have fun times. They’d get to be loud and rambunctious. Sometimes he drives me crazy when he smashes cake in the kids’ faces, but I bet those birthdays will never fade from their memories. And if they do, I’ve got the pictures to prove what an awesome dad they were blessed with. He’s thrown them in the mud, tickled them ’til they peed, and let them drive the boat. They say opposites attract, and it must be true because we’re two very different people. But I guess he’s the yin to my yang. We take turns playing good cop- bad cop to our brood of kids. He acts like I’m the one who takes in all the needy children and all the hungry dogs, but the truth is, he drags them home, too. Somewhere, we both learned to look out for others, and that’s how we ended up living in a zoo. But it’s our zoo, and today, I have to say, he was the best guy in the world to ride this roller coaster with.
These four amazing dads are weaved into the fabric of my life. They are each a piece of who I am. They’ve made me laugh and cry. They’ve held me up when I was down. I have a thousand stories starring the Fantastic Four fathers who touched my life. But today, I’m adding another dad to my list of blessings.
The Stick Around Kid
Blondie went to Nashville to chase a dream. Instead, she found a boy. But they make beautiful music together. She brought him back to Texas, and he probably wondered what he was doing in this zoo, but he’s part of the crew now. He definitely stuck around through the hardest time of Blondie’s life. He proved himself to be a man of character beyond his years. But the best part of Blondie’s Beau is the kind of dad he is. My grand-baby lights up when her Daddy walks into the room. It reminds me of the kind of princess I got to be when I was a little girl. He makes Presley Layne laugh so hard I can’t help but join her. He nurtures his family. And when you marry off your daughter, you hope and pray you’re putting her in the arms of a man who will cherish her as much as you do. We’ve been blessed to know our Blondie will always be loved, cherished, and supported. And her Beau will run through the house, playing “Tickle Monster” and he’ll throw those kids in the mud and maybe even toss a cake in their faces. And they’ll grow up happy. Because that’s the way it’s meant to be. On top of all that, he plays a pretty good six-string. He’s a gem of a man. And when he has his grumpy moments, Blondie brings him back around, because that’s what families do.
Happy Father’s Day to the Fantastic Five! This world is a better place because of you.