Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dad

My dad was the tallest man in my world. At 6' 2" (188 cm) he towered over all my uncles, aunts and cousins, earning him the nickname Long-legged Banker from one of them. When he switched from being a banker to selling religious books and articles, he was renamed the Long-legged Booker. The amazing thing was that even though he was so tall, his hand always reached low enough to hold mine. To me, he's still the tallest man in the world. He has always stood out from the crowd.

My dad was the world's greatest singer. He sang in local Gilbert and Sullivan productions when I was a child -- The Mikado and HMS Pinafore. I remember attending dress rehearsals where words had to be said over and over again, mustaches got caught in actors' mouths, and my dad, as Ralph Rackstraw, put a gun to his head, causing me to scream in fear, "Nooo, Daddy!" until the babysitter told me that the gun was "just pretend." Since those days, I've heard lots of great singers, but I still prefer to hear my dad sing over any of them.

My dad was the world's best guitarist, too. When Dad sang, "The Fox went out on a chase one night..." I could have listened for hours. What was really amazing was that he showed me how to play his guitar, and let me use it until I was sure that it was something I loved, then he bought me one too. One of my regrets is that I haven't spent more time playing guitar with Dad. But maybe, if his hands get better, we can still do that.

My dad was the world's best coach. Not that I ever played sports seriously. Just that I loved those Sunday afternoons where we went to the school yard for a game of scrub or soccer or 500 or... frisbee? Dad had a special way of encouraging his kids, and still does.

My dad was the world's best driving instructor (though a bit tense). It's funny, but often when I'm coming up to a red light, his words about slowing well in advance to reduce wear on the brakes come to mind.

My dad was the only boy in our family. Somehow, I always felt a little sorry for him because girls tend to gravitate to their moms for advice and help, and dads end up on the periphery of "girl stuff." Not that they really want to get into "girl stuff," given a choice, but Dad, for any times that you might have felt left out or "second banana," please know that it wasn't intentional.

My dad is the world's best grandpa. I'll never forget how he held my babies and talked to them. Or how he threw my kids into his leaf piles for an entire hour, even though he had to be more than tired after raking everything together. Or how he grilled my eldest daughter about her first boyfriend until she blushed deeper than I knew possible. Or how, when I called with parenting frustrations, he listened and offered practical advice, just what I needed to hear at that moment.

These words don't begin to do my dad justice. I could come up with another thousand things, given more time. But I have to say something about my wonderful dad on Father's Day. Even so, knowing my dad, "I love you" would be enough.

I love you, Dad.

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