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  • Writer's pictureJessica Strike

Happy birthday, Dad!

Today, my dad turns 62. Sixty. Two. When did this happen? To me he'll always be the handsome, dark haired guy with the blue eyes I wish I'd inherited. I'd like to take a moment to reflect and share (brag) about this special man in my life!

There are so many memories of laughter and rough housing, but also quiet moments with this seemingly gruff guy. My dad always had time to throw us around and be a human jungle gym after he got home from work. He was the one who beat us mercilessly at Monopoly (I'll admit we cried every time we played!), taught us to drive our Polly Pockets off the top bunk in his old Matchbox cars, but would then snuggle in bed with us and read Little House on the Prairie books. Taking time to take vacations to enjoy new adventures, to laugh together, to just be together. He was...present. He was just there and involved without it feeling forced and I feel that is such a hard thing to be these days, something so many have to practice being in this rushed and distracted world.

Another trait I think stands out the most is selflessness, in big things and countless small things. When my sister and I were very young, we begged for a dog. My dad is not an animal person (so he says), and yet, when I was about 6 or 7 Santa brought us a dog. He lived in a house with three girls, putting up with mauve and potpourri stuffed lace, frills, Barbies, pink painted bathrooms, and later teenage emotions, boy crazy girls, and high water bills from ridiculously long showers. He bought a boat when we were in middle school and not only was it the glue that held our family together during the busyness that comes with older kids, he put up with all the friends we would bring along.

I'm all grown up now, but my dad still makes an effort to be present in my life, often giving his time selflessly. From changing the oil on the van so I don't have to haul three kids to the shop, helping with landscaping and painting projects, to buying a camper so our family has a place to come and escape the busyness of life and relax together. But the most special thing about him now is watching him enjoy being "Papa."

I didn't realize it when I was a kid, but my dad loves little kids. I see it in the way he interacts with his granddaughters. The moment he held our oldest, Melody, a light lit in him. It is a joy to watch the way he teases them, stacks the Candyland deck so they get all the "special" cards, buys the girls treats when we go places, throws them around, shares his peanuts or cookies when we stop by, always has a perch for them on his shoulders or a snuggle in his chair as they read a book. This fall he even offered to start taking Melody to school after reading an article in Reader's Digest about how taking grandkids to school is a way to stay involved in their life, to help them know you're interested in who they are. So every school day Dad shows up at 7:15, orders Google to play some obscure song about unicorns or tin soldiers, chats with Melody and me and escorts her off to school. It makes my heart overflow as I see him open the car door for her and tuck her inside!

My dad had cancer before the girls were born. I'm so grateful that another trait about my dad is that he's a fighter. It is such a joy to look at all of these memories with an extra dose of appreciation that he beat cancer and that we've had all of these little moments with him and so many more ahead.

For all that you have been, are and will be, Dad, we're so grateful! I love you!

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