In my mind I still see the active and young Dad I knew growing up, who was sometime there, sometimes not. Always with a corny joke to make us kids laugh or say, "Yuck, Gross!", or put us in awe of the places he would travel to, bringing his stories and treasures home. In his career he served in the Navy, Coast Guard (retired Officer), Merchant Marines, a chef, a loan officer, a baker and now he serves his passion for cooking and food in his own catering business. Now that I think about it, my love of cooking and creating dishes that bring a harmony of tastes and sensations together comes from my Dad and that flows naturally into my passion for creating with my hands.
Tomorrow is Father's Day. I have been thinking for weeks about what I could do to celebrate my Dad and realized there is no gift I can ever give that will compare to the gifts he has given me. These gifts have never dulled and are renewed each day I rise.
The most important to me is the gift of unconditional love. Dad wasn't much on showing his soft side, but he knew how to love without judging, accept each of us - including me and all my awkwardness - for who we were and would be. In later years, Mom shared with me the sacrifices Dad made to assure all 6 of his children were well cared for, provided for and educated.
Dad gave me the gift of acceptance and support. No matter what choices I made in life, I would expect either tough love (which is still love) or hear the best words ever, "I'm so proud of you, I love you!" When I decided to take on small business ownership, he didn't cringe and tell me the worst that could happen; he offered to help me with any tips, information and leads that I may need.
The acceptance and support extends to family. Dad gave me the gift of his unconditional love and support to marry the man I should have married 20 years ago. His support and acceptance brought together 2 very large families that extend coast to coast.
Another treasured gift my Dad gave to me is the gift of appreciating art, music, cultures and people. There were not too many days when he was home that music wasn't playing or we would be treated to a drive-in movie (all 6 kids in a station wagon was an experience!). Road trips were always a "Plan B" for vacations and to some very exciting and fascinating places (most kids will never to see Slide Rock in AZ). I learned about Africa and the Maasai Warriors, the North and South Poles, Australia and other exotic places he traveled. I was fortunate to live a multicultural lifestyle and learned early on to accept others without judgment, to appreciate what we have and be open to experience what we have not yet experienced.
Dad is a true Renaissance Man and lover of life. I have never considered him just a "Dad". He's been my mentor at times, teacher in others. He has taught by example, lead others with humility and integrity. He always provided for his family, many times with sacrifice.
Dad, thank you for the gift of understanding what life offers and how to use my passions for creating and appreciating. Thank you for teaching me that I have choices and chances to seek more, do more, be more and to seize the day. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for the friendship we share. Thank you for being you - my Dad.