I have the best dad.
He's a country boy, I'll kick your ass kind of a guy, as in he loves his horse and his dog and his beat up t-shirt. He'd rather be bush hogging a backfield than playing a round of golf. He builds fences and mucks out stables. He's happiest driving down a long, old dirt road that ends at a meadow with a shimmering lake full of fish waiting to be caught.
He's a sage who never learned that you reach a point in your life where you've got it all figured out. He's journeying to the mountains on weekends to retreat and discover the wisdom of dreams. He can look into your eyes and pretty much sum up what lies in your heart. He listens with careful attention and only offers advice when persistently requested. He reads with relish the likes of Thomas Merton and Karl Jung and Richard Rohr, and his life reflects their rich spirituality. He wouldn't like that I'm bragging on his insatiable curiosity about God, about people, about the Christ whom he serves with devotion and gratitude.
He's a recovering corporate warrior who travels at dawn, precisely packed, an expeditor extraordinaire, and a surfer, with a knack for finding just the right wave because he is patient and knows the art of biding his time. He is the playful Poppy, beloved to his granddaughters for bursting in on a scene of jumping on the bed and joining right in.
He knows how to raise a daughter. He had different rules for me than my brothers. I wasn't allowed to say any bad words, like fart. I had to be home at eleven. No dates until I was 17. Working the late night shift at an ice cream shop was strictly forbidden ("no daughter of mine is closing up shop by herself and driving home late at night"). He nurtured my dreams of going back to the south for college, to the alma mater of my ancestors. He teased that I was going to Furman so I could fall in love just like he and Mama did, just like Poppa and Jenky did. And wouldn't you know, he was right?
He was my first love, as every daddy of little girls should be in my opinion. During a drawn-out dry spell, with no suitors in sight, when I was 16 going on 17, he took me on my first date. We dined at Timothy's in Scottsdale, a fancy pants kind of restaurant. I sipped my first glass of wine (didn't really like it back then; my how times have changed), learned which fork to use, and delighted in a conversation full of dreams for the future. He was setting the bar for those suitors to come. He set it high.
I am blessed to have known the love of a faithful father who has loved my mama for going on 43 years. I am blessed to have known at the way-too-young age of 19 what I wanted in a man who would one day be the father to my children. I wanted a man with my father's heart. And I found him.
Praying for good fathers for all of God's children. Praying for the one true Faithful Father to gather the fatherless in His arms. Praying for the future fathers we are raising.