If there were a contest to find the very best Dad in the entire world, I'm pretty sure you would win. No, scratch that. I know you would win. You are one of a kind, that's for sure... but the best in every single way. I know of very few people who have the kind of patience, focus and drive you do, but then on top of that one of the best senses of humor. It makes for a delightful mix.
There is a selfish part of me that is so glad there are no sons in our family. Otherwise, I'm not sure I would have gotten so much Father-Daughter time. You know, we went a lot of places together. I know I wore Mom out at home and the idea behind you taking me somewhere was just to give her a break, but I always ended up having so much fun with you!
As shy as I was and as often as I just hid behind or between your legs when you talked to people, I loved going to all of those job sites with you. I started learning about the construction business from a young age. I remember riding with you in the little Cessna airplane when you were finishing up your pilot's license and you would practice "touch and go-es" over and over. I would be sitting in the back seat, just looking out my window, feeling my stomach go up and down with the rhythm of the plane absolutely having a ball! We always stopped at the gas station when we were out and magically a piece of "Bit O' Honey" would appear from somewhere in my ear. It took me forever to figure out how you did that trick! I was so confused as to why I couldn't ever pull candy out of my own ear...
Also because of my shyness you thought it was really important for me to be involved in team sports and instead of just signing me up for a team, you took time out of your own schedule to help coach. You knew I wouldn't be brave enough to go out there by myself if I did not know anyone. As nervous as I was, I ended up having a terrific time and made all sorts of new friends along the way. Thank you! No matter what sport I was involved in (gymnastics, swimming, softball, or volleyball) you did your best to be involved in some way, shape or form. That made me feel so important! My goodness did you ever put some time in at volleyball games especially...so much time in fact, that I'm surprised your rear end is not permanently molded into the shape of bleachers.
The experiences you provided us really shaped who I am today. Because of you I have this crazy love of maps and geography! All of those trips to the airport on Saturdays with lot of time to play with the huge wall map really paid off - maps fascinate me. Tied in to that is my love of travel. You took us places from Day One... lots of places... foreign and domestic. Having little kids along didn't phase you and Mom - y'all were so brave. As a result I learned to respect and appreciate other cultures from a very young age - a very important trait for a Geography teacher.
Thank you for having us stay in little family-run hotels in the non-touristy parts of town and making us eat in restaurants where no one spoke English and there was not an English menu in sight! Two eating rules you instilled in me: 1) McDonald's, Burger King, Pizza Hut are not options in another country (besides the one obligatory visit just to see the differences) and 2) If you like it, don't ask what it is, just eat it. And because you taught us to not be afraid to travel anywhere or ask questions I was able to break out of my "shell". It was painful and tough (and I'm lucky my sister didn't just leave me on the side of the street), but it was such a necessary experience. I never would have even been in Budapest if it weren't for you!
You taught me the value of a dollar, from both the earning and spending side. From a young age you showed me how a business was run and that money didn't just magically appear. I know I gave you a hard time growing up about being frugal, but now I see the wisdom in your financial decisions. You and Mom made me into the bargain shopping, coupon cutting, deal seeking woman I am today. Also, I really appreciate the lessons you lived out for us about travel being accessible to everyone. That is a lesson a lot of people miss out on and it's to their own detriment.
Your passion for life and "go-getter" attitude constantly astound me. You just don't know how blessed I was by you taking us to Russia last summer. Seriously, that was a trip of a lifetime in so many ways! I really appreciate the financial aspect (we never could have afforded to do a trip like that on our own right now) but also the time you spent planning, preparing and traveling with us. You truly are the Energizer Bunny... you keep going and going and going and going. I certainly hope I have half the energy that you do when I'm your age ...hopefully I got those good genes!
Wise. Outgoing. People-loving. Those are the three words I think best describe you.
I have really enjoyed the way our relationship has evolved over the years. In addition to you being my Dad, I consider you my friend. I love you and Happy Father's Day.