There’s a picture in my room today that has not left my nightstand since I was a baby. My dad is holding me, a scrunchy faced newborn, in the delivery room. His mouth and nose are covered by a mask, and his thick dark hair is under a cap. Although his eyes are all that shows, anyone that knows my dad can tell he’s smiling.
For many years, that picture was deep and rich in color, held securely inside a white porcelain frame with colored hearts around the edges. Only a few years ago did I decide to upgrade to a silver frame. And, only recently did my mom point out how much it’s faded over the years.
I don’t know why I love that picture so much. I certainly wasn’t cute yet—and my dad is barely recognizable—but it radiates joy, and love, and protection, and certainty more so than any other picture I own.
A few nights ago, as I was writing my dad his Father’s Day card, I started reflecting on some of the things he’s given me the last 27 years. The result is this list:
If it wasn’t for my dad…
I’d have become a flag dancer instead of a volleyball player.
I wouldn’t’ know the difference between want and need.
I’d take much longer showers.
I might have married a man that was just okay instead of amazing.
I’d have a weak handshake.
I’d have never learned to Do-si-Do at Girl Scout Square Dances, or memorized the 50 states and 500 SAT words.
I’d be a 100% wimp.
I wouldn’t know the true art of hiding food—like chocolates and cookies—when you don’t want others to eat them first.
I definitely wouldn’t cry as much during toasts and speeches.
I wouldn’t have tried Dim Sum.
I’d never have discovered Dave Matthews Band or U2, or any other artist besides the Beach Boys.
I might not have learned how to take risks.
I wouldn’t look at all sides of an issue.
I wouldn’t be me.
Dad, I love you. Thanks for teaching me all the good things in life.