Recently I wrote a post about How Courting A Man Ruined Me. It gained recognition worldwide--which is crazy-cool--and I had a lot of people asking a lot of questions. One person asked about my relationship with my father. Others pointed out I really didn't mention him or my mom in the courting process.
Ah, well, I'd like to talk to you about that now.
He was THE Godfather. Don Vito Corleone.
Actually, he wasn't. At least not to my knowledge... But he could have been! Seriously. It's a cool story.
When he was young, his uncle asked him if he wanted to help out the family business. As my Dad tells it, Grandpa forbid him from getting involved with his uncle and "the business." (My dad uses airquotes when mentioning "the business" every time.) So, like every good America teen, my dad obeyed. Sorta. Instead of spitting in my grandpa's face and committing the biggest act of disobedience the family had ever seen, my dad joined the Navy. He sailed away his angst, then once he was free, moved to California.
To this day I don't know what kept him in there (besides all of California's intrigue, including Disney Mouseketeer Annette Funicello).
What I do know is that California is where he fell in love with my mother. California is where I was born. California, my friends, has all the answers.
My dad... where to start? After my husband, he's my favorite man in the world.
When I was little, he woke up with me in the mornings to watch "Rough Necks" before school. He packed my lunches and left notes between the sandwich and carrots. He dropped me off at school; he picked me up. He bought me a Playstation and created a video-gaming nerd. He let me be a girl by buying me Barbies, but he also nurtured my tom-girlish side by buying me Hot Wheels. He taught me all about cars when he took me to Hot August Nights in Reno, Nevada, for the greatest classic car show of our age. He supported my love of horses--by letting me take lessons and own two Arabians. When I turned 15, he taught me to drive like a pro, then he let me drive to San Jose so we could go to hockey games together. He waited for hours with me after the game to meet my hockey crush, then embarrassed me in front of my hockey crush like a proud father should. He nurtured my love of Westerns. He made sure I have a healthy respect for Predator. He gave me advice when I needed it and listened to me vent. He took me camping, hiking and Bigfoot hunting. It's because of my dad that I learned how to thoroughly clean a house, from vacuuming to organizing. Because of my dad, I grew passionate about animals. He showed me how to tame wild animals and care for lost baby birds. We didn't live on a farm, but at one point or another we owned ducks, hamsters, frogs, cats, dogs, birds and horses. He traveled with me around the United States--from Hawaii to Maine. He gave me his ol' Honda Accord when I went away to college and let me move halfway across the nation to go to college. Better yet, he PAID for college. No matter what, he loved me when I yelled at him. He loved me when I cried with him. I inherited his temper and stubbornness, but I also learned from his temper and stubbornness. He taught me how to be picky with the right things and how to go with the flow.
I have his passion. I have his imagination. I have his humor. I have his determination.
He stayed home with me when I was little, and when he finally went back to work, he helped old people retire and get their benefits (or something like that). I'm sure he had a fancy title, but let's suffice to say he worked for the State of California, and it always sounded boring to me.
Anyway, my dad has always been in my life. I'm his little girl. He's my Papa.
While he isn't perfect, he loved and continues to love my mom with everything he is. I've watched him.
He danced with her. He massaged her back. He kissed her nose. He tickled her. He cooked her steak dinners. He cleaned the dirty dishes. He vacuumed the house. He bought her kittens. He bought her diamonds. He prayed for her. He defended her. He told her she was smart and beautiful. He made sure she was comfortable. He made sure she knew she was loved. He sacrificed action movies to watch Hallmark movies for her. He made hummingbird food so she could stare at cute, lil' hummingbirds. He landscaped a garden for her to enjoy. He memorized (or wrote down) silly jokes to make her laugh. He bought her even more kittens.
And he still does all of those things to this day.
My dad loves my mom. He loves her like crazy. In one night, I've watched them fight like the world was ending and then snuggle on the couch minutes later. No matter what, he was the man of our house, and he never let our home fall apart.
For a long time, I always thought something was wrong with me because I wasn't boy-crazy. I literally thought I was messed up and that I would never get married. Then one day it hit me: It's my dad's fault because he set the standard.
My dad taught me how to be strong, independent and content. I never wanted to date because my dad was the role model, and frankly, nobody could touch him. Of course I know he was far from perfect when he was growing up, but it's what he grew into that made all the difference.
All my life, he'd jokingly tell me to wait to date until I was married. Because of the man he is, I totally took him seriously BECAUSE IT MADE SENSE. He wanted me to protect my heart. He never forbid me to date; instead he poured love into me, spent time with me, bonded with me and taught me how a man is supposed to love me.
To me, he tried to love me like God loves me, and I am so thankful and so blessed for that. It makes relating to God that much easier. He defined what my future husband should look like.
So when I found Mack, it clicked. Mack was the man who loved me like my father loved me.
And he was worth the wait.
Thank you, Daddy, for setting the bar high and guiding me to find a man who loves me like Jesus loves me.