Monday, June 18, 2007

No Fathers Here

Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there. This year, as the past 5 have also been, was hard for us as we have no fathers in our family. Literally. Derek's father passed away in 1992, my grandfather passed away in 1998, my father in 2002, and my uncle in 2006. So, it's just us girls and my husband. We didn't have a father's day celebration at our house. It's sad, because we miss our dads so much. Watching all the new fathers with their kids is also not much fun, since we've been trying to get there for so long.

So what did we do? Well, after breakfast at the Waffle House, I rode 45 miles and Derek did yardwork. (He rode 15 prior to princess suzanne even rising from bed). Then we got in the pool and just relaxed. We grilled steaks and had a beer. Why? Because both of our dads would have loved that.

Derek's father loved to cook out. He loved to share a beer with friends, and he was fiercely loyal to those he considered friends. He loved to watch baseball, and loved to be involved in Derek's life. He coached most of Derek's baseball teams, and nothing was more important than his son and his wife. I only knew Derek's father for about a year before he died, but he was a wonderful person. He welcomed me into the family without hesitation. I still remember one of the last times we all went to dinner. As Derek and I were leaving to go back to school he hugged me and told me he loved me. I was so touched. That hug and those words meant so much to me. I had been completely drawn in to his family. They were my family now.

Derek's dad was career air force. He served 2 tours in Vietnam and was an air traffic controller at Da Nang (sp?). When he retired from the air force he went to work for the FAA as a Flight Service Specialist. The pilots would call and give him their flight plans and he would provide the weather reports for their routes. He had a very important job, one that he loved.

My father never knew his father. I often wondered how then he knew how to be such a good Daddy since he didn't have one. I never doubted that I was the center of his world. He always made time for me when he got home from work. Whether it was throwing the ball in the backyard, going for a swim, or coming to a basketball game, he was always there for me. I remember how when I made the soccer team in high school. I just assumed that my parents wouldn't make it to my away games. After all, the games were at 5:00 and Daddy had to work. But he came to almost all of them, sometimes driving as much as an hour to watch me play. That meant so much to me.

He also was perfect at the daddy hug. You know how it is when you are upset about something. Sometimes you just have to cry it out. Even as a high schooler I could crawl into his lap and he'd hold me and let me cry. He didn't try to "fix" it, he'd just comfort me. Later, when I was just sniffling, he'd put whatever it was into perspective for me. And I'd always feel better.

One thing my dad and Derek's dad had in common was how they both loved to brag on their kids. My dad never held back. His unwavering confidence in me made me into the woman that I am now. I am not afraid to attempt new things because of it. Derek is the same way.

I miss my dad so much. Thoughts of him cross my mind at least several times throughout the day. Every time I am out running or riding, I think Dad would be so proud of me. He'd be there at my races, grinning from ear to ear. Dad's special song for me was "Daddy's Little Girl" by the Mills Brothers. Some days I just have to pull out the CD and listen to it. It makes me smile.

Derek will be a wonderful daddy to our daughter. You know how some men are just meant to be daddies to little girls? That is my Derek. He will be perfect for it. He has that same sweet, encouraging demeanor that my dad had. I can't wait to see him with our little Tiger. She will be the apple of his eye for sure.

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