Dads are special. Many dads deserve a mention, a hug and appreciation today. In fact, my two children and I took my husband out to lunch today and showered him with hardback copies of the new Star Wars offical cannon.
But this note is for my daddy, and men like him who sacrifice so much of themselves to be caregivers.
Daddy, you are a man of strength, a man who has over and over again had to use emotional endurance to support and care for those around you.
You came to all my home games for volleyball, basketball and softball then cheered on the weekends for summer league. You played catch with me each day after work when we lived in Utah. You coached my softball team for years and instilled in me a love for the game, but also a love for hard work and being a teammate.
You spoke candidly with me on long trips to the hospitals, told me the truth when times were hard, and respected my intelligence and treated me as a decision maker in the family with conversations that built me as a person. I was able to come to you with my problems because I had seen your honesty in your struggles, your faith when you stood against your fears, and how you loved wholeheartedly even in the toughest of times.
You carried my brother on your back so we could hike mountains together, pushed his wheelchair through sand so I could enjoy the beach as a child. You took me to the Fun Dome for lazer tag regularly with friends so I could feel the joys and adventure youth should find. You were the coolest dad on the block and my friends were easier to be around because you created opportunities for me with coaching and traveling trips. Somehow in all the chaos of what our daily life was, you carved out for me a spot to play, to mature, and to be myself.
I saw you share your Cheetos with Dustin and drink your Mountain Dew even after Dustin backwashed those Cheetos into your drink. As a habit of life, you put others first, and the unnecessary conveniences second. I’d like to learn more of that as I mature. I know I fail in worrying too much about things that don’t matter. There are times I wish I could be more like you in keeping Ultimate Worth in perspective and not chasing life’s goals past the goal of loving others well. You are a wonderful model of a man who inherently values each human life and wants above all else to touch another life with smile and simple joys.
You held mom’s hand at softball games, sat next to her, walked her pace, and involved her in real relationships you could both share joy in with other parents. So many times, you drove all the long hours from Kansas to New Mexico yourself to help mom enjoy her family. You taught me the manners of please and thank you and ma’am so I could fit in with the Southern Hospitality style of my mother’s family.
You were the anchor for mom as her world shifted and ultimately her earthly life ended due to a genetic muscle weakening condition that had been building in her since birth. You took on all the burden of a man who married discovered a genetic disease in your family after the birth of a son with congenital myotonic dystrophy, poured love into your children no matter how different we were from any original expectation, and stayed married till death did you part to the most wonderful mother and a good woman.
You comforted me in the hospital when mom lay on her bed with a ventilator hooked to her neck. In fact, you tried to play caretaker for me and my newborn through the process. You tried to look after everyone else first before yourself. You have endured so much of what other men could and have walked away from. You embraced the boy Dustin was and loved him unconditionally. You embraced the woman Jo Lyn was and loved her unconditionally. You embrace the woman I am and love me unconditionally. You may be the most patient man I know.
You have helped me raise Eli to be a boy with a caring heart and curious mind. Hannah lights up every time she sees you enter the room. My children are the beneficiaries of your abundant love. You have been a gracious house partner in living with me and Daniel, and added wisdom and calmness to the mess that comes with parenting young children and being married in the modern era. We have learned so much from you. I have learned so much from you.
As I write this, you are preparing for your second mission trip overseas since losing mom. I admire how you have been a caretaker so much of my life. You have taken a heart shaped by what could be considered a tragedy, and turned into one of the most giving, understanding and patient men who lives life by following his heart’s yearning to serve. I hope you find a piece of your heart in Haiti. May there be many blessed by the intention in your heart as you practice servant leadership overseas.
I can’t tell you how blessed we are to have you living in our house and helping raise our children, a man defined by the desire to live a life of service, a man who so easily places others above himself, a man who could have been defined by grief but has rewritten his story around love.
You are amazing daddy, a true hero, a defining character, and no small part in how I can stand today to try to share my heart with others.
I look up to you, admire the sacrifices you have made, am grateful for your love, and supremely blessed to be your daughter.
However, I want you to know, that the trait I see as most special in you, something I think not many could do as well as you, is your resilience. Some say that “what must be endured, can be endured”, but what I see embodied in you is beyond endurance – it is a redefinition of what is good and worthwhile in life. You are so resilient that after you outlived your caretaker role for your wife and son with a genetic and terminal disease, that you became caretaker for my healthy children, for me, and for those orphans in Haiti you are going to visit.
You have written your story in a way that enabled me to write mine.
I love you daddy!
I hope today finds you blessed.
I am forever inspired by your choice to live, live well, and live for others.
I love to see the joy my father shared with my children.