So I’ve started this sentence a dozen times, and each time I get halfway through and then start hitting the backspace until there is once again a clean slate. It’s hard to even know where to begin when trying to describe what I feel about a father. Words really can’t express what I feel, but if I had to choose one word, I’d have to say my father made me feel safe.
And that’s really something.
Now that I’m a mother with two grown children and one almost into his teens, I’ve learned just how unstable and challenging life can be. Jobs can suddenly disappear. Diseases can rear their ugly head when you least expect it. Relationships become strained and even fall apart. And attempting to keep an even keel, a positive place for your children to flourish in the midst of all that life throws your way – that’s one daunting task.
Yet my father did it with grace. He was one of the hardest working men I’ve ever known. He rose before the crack of dawn in order to have time, as he always said, “to spend some time with the Good Book” before he started his day. I well remember him sitting in his favorite chair, steaming cup of coffee by his side, reading from his Bible before leafing through every page of our daily newspaper.
Daddy worked long hours as an airplane mechanic, helping maintain and repair our nation’s latest experiments and developments. He’d served as a mechanic in the Korean War, and afterwards spent the better part of his life working for the Air Force. He never really talked about his job – likely because he couldn’t – but he never complained, either. Not once do I remember ever thinking it was a burden or chore for him to go to work every day to provide for us kids.
And when he came home, he was always puttering with something – repairing a sliding screen door we kids had managed to derail yet again or weeding his bounteous garden or tending to other chores around the house. He didn’t gripe about it, either. Ok, he griped about the door. But he had cause. We knocked that door off its wheels with more regularity than the mailman delivered our bills. But mostly, Dad didn’t complain. He was a pleasant, kind man who never made us feel it a burden that he cared for our needs and kept our home and lives in good repair.
And now when I see him at the age of 80, often still sitting in his favorite chair with his favorite dog sitting in his lap, I’m filled with so much gratitude. Even now when he hugs me, I feel safe, like all is well in the world and nothing can go so wrong that it can’t be fixed. I’m a grown woman and responsible for myself, but my dad has the ability to make me feel like I’m still that little pony-tailed girl snuggled close in his hug. I can’t imagine a better gift that a father could give his daughter, and I feel so lucky to have belonged to him.