He was the first man I remember loving. He took me fishing, took me to work with him and let me play on his office adding machine, took me for soft-serve ice cream (our favorite), taught me to ride a horse, drive a car, call up a cow, and plant a garden. He listened to a lot of incessant chatter, sat through some pretty boring piano recital performances, and endured many a long drive with 3 females from Oklahoma to Mississippi and back again.
He told me I was pretty. He told me I was smart. He told me he was proud of me. He still tells me. And now he tells my daughter. And he’s teaching her a lot of the same things he taught me.
He’s where I get my stubborness. My inability to be still for too long. My pride. My argumentative side. It’s all him. But he’s also where I get a good part of my tenderness, my drive and determination, my humor. In fact, the older I get, the more I realize just how much we are alike……but so vastly different too. But we are ok with that. Our relationship has ran the gauntlet – from extremely close to barely speaking, from great affection to intense anger, from the admiration of a little girl of her “perfect daddy” to now the respect and admiration of a grown daughter for her father: a man who, though she found out later was as flawed as she was, has only continued to teach her, love her, encourage her, and believe in her……even when, especially when, she didn’t believe in herself.