As I grew up there was no doubt in anyone's mind that I was (and still am) a Daddy's girl. My dad was blessed with 2 daughters and no sons. The poor man has had to put up with a house full of women for years! However, as most of you know I am not and have never been the girly type. I was a tom boy through and through. I enjoyed digging up worms and going fishing with dad. I have always loved sports... playing them, watching them, talking about them, ANYTHING sports!
I can remember getting up really early on a Saturday morning to go with my dad to "call" for turkeys. We would get in whatever truck he had at the time and head to the gas station for coffee, (for dad) milk for me, and donuts for us both. We then would drive out to a place that someone had told dad was a hot spot for turkeys that year and we would sit and listen for turkeys. I have to tell you ... at the time I probably couldn't have cared less about those turkeys. I would have been just as content with my day if we hadn't heard a single turkey simply because it meant I got to start my day out with donuts (which mom NEVER let us have at the house) and alone time with daddy.
I can remember many fishing trips with dad. I remember rolling over railroad ties, digging in dirt and even horse poop, or flipping over something else that was lying around as I hunted for worms. Once we had a good amount we would head for the pond where we spent HOURS of my childhood. I can remember dad teaching me to cast my line out into the water, he taught me to watch my bobber (which I still prefer to use today!) for any signs of movement, he taught me how to set my hook so that a fish didn't swallow it, he taught me to "thread a worm on my hook"....... Let's just say the two biggest thing he taught me : to be careful as I whipped my pole around and that we had to be quiet (always a challenge for me) so we didn't scare the fish away.
I remember how dad played vet, funeral director, or watch man for any sick animal I happened to find and bring to him. (believe me there were plenty) I was the animal lover among us.... the soft hearted one for sure when it came to hurt things. It didn't matter if it was a sick pet or something I found out in the wild... the animal ALWAYS got brought to dad who was then expected to do anything and everything to make the animal well again. Bless his heart I can't remember a single time when he EVER looked at me and told me he was too tired, too busy, or that he wasn't wasting time on an animal that was surely going to die. We ended up with raccon babies whose momma had been hit on the road, a baby bunny that was mangled on one side from getting nicked by a car, (his momma died on the road too!) kitten's whose momma abandoned them, and on and on.
There was once a pet rabbit that someone let loose in the middle of town. I was in grade school at the time and watched as Jr. High kids threw rocks at it and tortured it.... that of course meant I went home that night and begged dad to help me catch it. (I don't think he actually thought we would) We had told someone else we were looking for the rabbit and a couple of days later they showed up to give me "my" rabbit. That stinkin thing lived until just a year or two ago.
Then there was the cat that knocked a fishing pole over and got the hook stuck in his side... we had to take him to the vet to get it removed. I'm pretty sure dad was on midnight shift so was sleeping when I went screaming into his room after finding the cat! There was the cat that my sisters horse stepped on.... shattering his hip bone and sending us to the vet for surgery. If that wasn't bad enough the cat came home with a pin sticking out of his hip and couldn't be outside ....so to my father's delight he lived inside for the months of healing.
Dad nursed who knows how many baby animals that had no momma. We had a little animal baby bottle so we could feed them. Dad taught me to put a hot water bottle under a blanket for them to lie on so they stayed warm. He taught me if I put a watch in the basket with them they would think it was the sound of their momma's heart beat and it would calm them. He stayed up nursing animals back to health on numerous occasions and when there was nothing else he could do he helped me find a box to put the animal in and then he dug a hole to bury the box.
I remember lazy afternoons when Mom would make soup and then we would all curl up and watch the Bengals play football. I can remember dad teaching me the rules of the game or answering my never ending list of questions. It was from him MY love for football was born.
I remember him letting me sit on his lap and "drive" the tractor and I can remember him sitting beside me teaching me to drive a car.
I remember plenty of punishments and arguments ....but I remember more apologies and I love you's.
I remember swimming, playing, and goofing with dad. He was always playing a prank or doing something sneaky. If we were in water he would hold his breath (for what seemed like ever) and swim underneath me so that he could grab my legs.
He taught me to "keep my eye on the ball," "my elbow down," and "my feet shoulder width apart." He taught me to "keep my head up while dribbling," to "follow my shot," and to "box out!" He and mom drove me all over the country when I wanted to play on a traveling volleyball team and they paid the bill for any equipment I needed. He taught me that "the only dumb question is the one you don't ask." (that came back to haunt him as I was and still am a never endless list of questions)
I remember countless weekends at horse shows where he would help (ok pretty much do it himself) me saddle my horse, lead me to the show ring, or coach me on what I did wrong so that I could do better the next time.
I remember going to work with him in the summers after I got hired on as summer help and I remember finally appreciating how hard his job was and how hard he worked. I can remember coming home to take a nap while dad went out and did whatever work needed done at our house. He NEVER quits.
From him I learned that "you only get one chance to make a good first impression" and what assuming will get you.
I remember any time I got hurt, sick, or scared he was always right there. If it meant a late night trip to the emergency room he was in the car ready before I finished explaining what happened. (it didn't matter if he did have to work early the next morning)
I remember countless events I had and his face always being in the stands no matter if it meant he had to take a vacation day or spend a weekend doing something I loved.
I remember loads of times where he helped me build science fair projects, do homework, or finish whatever school, 4H, or club project I had left for last minute.
I remember thousands of vacations, trips, dinners, etc. with my daddy. It seemed like we couldn't take him anywhere where he wouldn't at least know someone. It felt like he knew EVERYONE and if he didn't know someone chances were good if you gave him long enough with them he would start up a conversation.
I have tons of happy memories with him that I will cherish forever. I am certain I got the best daddy the world has to offer.
Aside from being a blast to be around and being my biggest fan... he was ALWAYS looking for ways to serve others. He has always been a stickler for being honest, on time, and kind. To him it is a no brainer... it is the right thing to do. It is certainly from my parents that I learned to serve and be compassionate towards other people.
So Happy Birthday Daddy....