“Fathers, be your daughter’s first love and she’ll never settle for anything less.” — Unknown

I have been so blessed to have the father I had. There was never a moment I doubted I was loved or cared for or that I mattered to him. Everything he did was for me and my brother. There was nothing he loved more than being our dad. I understand the privilege that I carried with this gift. I understand it more now that he is gone. 

Everything about my dad shaped who I am, how I view myself, and how I interact with the world and the people in it. As a young girl, I went through a phase where I wanted to be an astronaut. I don’t recall this time period outside of reading a story my dad had saved in his toolbox.

In the story, I wrote about a little girl who wanted to work in space and everyone told her that she’s a girl and couldn’t do it. It bummed the girl out, though everything changed when her dad told her she can do anything she puts her mind to and is willing to put in the work. The girl worked in space.

When I found this story, I was shocked as I didn’t remember writing it and asked why he had it. Dad told me it was important to him.

He remembered me asking why others in my life were telling me I couldn’t do things because I was a girl and he told me I was able to do anything I was willing to work hard for. He always reminded me of this even when he thought there was a better or easier way. 

“My father didn’t tell me how to live. He lived and let me watch him do it.” – Clarence Budington Kelland

This quote reminds me of how my father lived his life. He taught me so much, not just with his words, but with the actions of how he lived. He taught me that real men show up…even when it’s inconvenient.

He was constantly showing up for others and treated everyone better than their circumstances. It used to annoy me when I was younger that he would invest so much time and energy into people and I didn’t always get it. When I questioned him, he would tell me there’s always time to take care of others and reminded me that we don’t get to take anything with us when we die.

He taught me a lot about how to live in community. I learned we need to take care of each other and invest in people. Sometimes it’s risky, though mostly it’s well worth the investment. 

Trust me…my dad used his words and would drop plenty of wisdom on me, my brother, and our friends. He was famous for saying things like, “The morning is half over at 6 am” and “You’re only as happy as you want to be”.

He went more in-depth than any sex ed class I ever had. He would jokingly tell my girlfriends and me that he knew how to prevent teen pregnancy and stated it came down to just a Tylenol and a 5-gallon bucket. If we kept the Tylenol between our knees and our feet in the bucket, there would be no teen pregnancy.

He went further though to explain that sex is fun and feels good, though it carries a lot of consequences and responsibilities beyond just a pregnancy. He then would tell me that until I’m ready to deal with every one of those possible consequences and responsibilities, I wasn’t ready to have sex. 

When I became a parent, he told me constantly to spend as much time with my kids as possible. It goes by too quickly and I will never get it back. I also will never regret spending any amount of time with my kids.

I know he felt that one deeply and personally. He always made time for my brother and me, even when he was working. He always chose jobs where we could be his top priority. 

I carry so many of his lessons around with me. I wish I heeded them more consistently earlier in life. As usual, he was typically right.

I’m very blessed to have had the father I had. I wish everyone had a dad or father figure like mine. I’m pretty certain the world would be a much better place.

“A daughter needs a dad to be the standard against which she will judge all men.” – Gregory E. Lang