We all have baggage – emotional, physical, otherwise. I’ve led a charmed life, but it wasn’t easy and it has been constantly overshadowed by the dark relationship with my mother. I won’t go into the details – they are far too lengthy and boring – but my husband, father, sister, and therapist know most all of them. More and more is coming out during sessions with my new therapist and she is, quite frankly, working miracles in me. I have had many therapists through the years, for various reasons or another, but this one is simply working wonders. She’ll tell you it’s not her – it’s God – and I believe that, but she’s still the vessel and a very talented one at that.
All that to say this, my dad raised me. I was extremely lucky to move to my dad’s in Alabama, from my mother’s in Wisconsin, when I was 7. So he has raised me nearly my entire life. Memories with my dad are many and happy….annual trips to Six Flags with a stop at Denny’s, periodic trips to Disney World, card games on Friday nights, reading books together, testing out new songs for him on the mic in the front room while he listens from the living room, showing off my trumpet playing and baton and flag twirling skills for him when I learned something new, weekend trips to the mall with my friends with ice cream stops after, watching TV together, learning new things on the Mac and in his businesses, and so many more. Every holiday was amazing, school, work, and family were important, and he sacrificed a lot to make sure I had everything I needed and participated in every activity I wanted to growing up.
As a child and teenager, I didn’t appreciate his constant giving. He always seemed glad to do it and never once did I hear him complain about money, chauffeuring me to and fro, or my constant needs. He covered me in hugs, values, and love. As I started my adult years, I began to grasp a little concept of what it was like to be an only parent raising the opposite sex. Now, as I get into my 40s, the appreciation I have for him raising me by himself grows exponentially every year. I can’t imagine what it was like as a man raising a little girl, the nuances that come with that like hair, makeup, BOYS(!!), periods, sex, hormonal changes, emotional changes, etc. He handled everything with grace and dignity, never abandoning me or flailing for answers.
There will never be enough time to tell him just how much he means to me or how thankful I am that he raised me. He instilled the most awesome values in me, taught me how to fiercely love, how to live life and have fun, how to be compassionate to those less fortunate or in need, and how to be the best person I could. I hope I have made him proud so far; I will continue striving until the day I die because he is the example I excel to be. He is my hero and my everything. Today, on his birthday, I want him to know that I received the best present ever – him as my father. I love you, Dad. Thank you for loving me.