75 Reasons Why I Love my Dad
2. You taught me to fish.
3. You are noble, and taught me to aspire to be noble.
4. You still loved me when I was not as noble as both of us would have liked me to be.
5. You are strong.
6. You are kind.
7. You carried a shotgun into the high school and pulled my brothers and sisters out of a riot.
8. You always thought I was much more than I was, and that made me believe in my own possibility.
9. You are a wonderful storyteller.
10. As a child, you once thought Lake Monroe was the Atlantic Ocean.
11. You had a friend named Seven-Up who wore go-go boots with the toes cut out.
12. You built a bar in our front yard and made me virgin strawberry daiquiris.
13. You have goddamned beautiful hair.
14. You have bravely battled back from five amputations, dozens of operations, two heart attacks and one stroke. Not to mention the premature birth. Because you knew we wanted you here so badly, and I knew how much you just wanted to rest.
15. You found late in life a job you loved, and you loved it because you were in a place where you could comfort people.
16. You make cornbread in an iron skillet.
17. You have strange nutritional ideas about breakfast. (Nothing you eat for breakfast can hurt you.)
18. You lived with so much pain.
19. You neither hid that pain, nor made it my burden.
20. You let me love you so much.
21. You came to Girl Scouts.
22. You were kind to my friends.
23. You love babies.
24. That you fed the fish off the dock where you lived so often the shadow of their cone-shaped school followed you back and forth along the dock.
25. That you always fished with shiners.
26. That you said, “I ain’t going to stay in a boat with you casting.” This, you said, partially because I was 7, but mostly because my mother pierced your face once with a hook, and the fish that had been her bait beat a panicked rhythm against your cheek.
27. That you came with me to cheerleading practice.
28. That you bought me a pony.
29. You let me love you so much.
30. You were my first editor.
31. You loved my mother so much, that I once caught you staring at her, and when you saw me you said, “Your mother is a very beautiful woman.”
32. That you told me about the day I was born.
33. That you remember the day, when I was a baby, when I couldn’t stop staring at my hands and that made you laugh.
34. That you pulled me out of bed one night after you saw a news story about a young girl who had been attacked in Yeehaw Junction and showed me how to break someone’s nose, if I ever had to.
35. That I was wearing pink feety pajamas the night you got a call people were breaking into your car lot, and you grabbed your shot gun and put me – pajamas and all – into the truck with you and you said, “Whatever happens, don’t get out of this truck,” and luckily it was a false alarm, no one was there, and we didn’t end up in shoot out that night.
36. That you let me go when you wanted to hang on so fiercely.
37. That you weathered my teen years as best you could.
38. That you always opened doors for ladies.
39. That you packed my lunch every day – sometimes ham and biscuits, sometimes a fried pork chop in Saran wrap, sometimes Brunswick stew.
40. That you took me with you everywhere, even the used car auction in Tarry Town, where we walked around and looked at all the cars and you bought me bean soup.
41. That you used to make me carry your doggy bag out of restaurants because you said, “Men ain’t supposed to have leftovers.”
42. That when you learned you were so sick the first question you asked was whether you had been a good father.
43. Because you’ve done enough crossword puzzles to paper the Grand Canyon.
44. Because I have your low forehead and wide nose, and when I look in the mirror I see your face and when I look at your face I see my own.
45. Because we both read magazines back to front.
46. Because one more bite makes you uncomfortable.
47. Because the last time you went hunting, you said the deer walking past were so beautiful you couldn’t shoot them, and you weren’t embarrassed to tell me this.
48. Because you bought me a rod and reel on my third birthday, and it was as tall as me.
49. That you always found a way.
50. We don’t have to talk.
51. When you think of something funny, you laugh out loud, even when you’re alone.
52. You always told me the truth as best you could.
53. Your favorite writer was Hemingway. You loved The Old Man and the Sea.
54. You like to dress up.
55. You like colors, and in the 1980s picked out our mauve sofa.
56. When you bought the new pontoon boat, I was your first passenger.
57. You made red-eye gravy.
58. You buried Tom the cat three times.
59. You tried to put my hair in pigtails. The effect was post-modern, perhaps cubist. Definitely traumatic for both of us.
60. You saved my life when the truck door flew open when I was six. You caught my leg with your right hand. When doctors took the pinky of that hand, and threw it in the trash, I thought, “That finger is responsible for 20 percent of my life.”
61. That you seemed to know everything, but seemed to believe you knew nothing, and that made you all the more wise.
62. You took me to breakfast on my birthday.
63. We never went back to the doughnut place with the painted curtains.
64. You bought us Smoky, and then Tuesday.
65. When my first grade teacher said he was concerned because I’d been sick that day you laughed and said, “That’s just what she does.”
66. You pulled over and let me get sick the first time I went to dance class.
67. You didn’t abandon your mother.
68. You didn’t abandon your father.
69. You believe so strongly in love.
70. You believe your children are your wealth.
71. You watch Bonanza every day, and get upset if an episode airs that you’ve already seen.
72. Your limitations were not nearly as great as you imagined.
73. You taught me to bottle feed the baby cows.
74. You have a kinship with the Earth I haven’t seen before or since. You have great compassion and respect for animals, water, storms, and lightning.
75. You let me love you so much.
I have carried stories about you with me all over the world, and the world, too, loves you. They love you because your nobility, humor and spirit are unique and admirable, that you’ve never tried to be anything that who you are, that you are genuine, to-the-point and complex. I am so lucky.
All my love, Kelly