Sunday, June 17, 2007

You Know I Love You, But Do You Know Why?

Dear Dad,
Today is Father's Day and I have you--A Really Neat Dad. I also have a wicked sinus infection and a throbbing pointer finger that I sliced through while chopping green onions this afternoon--both of which are making it painful to type, but I still think you ought to know a few, actually ten, of the reasons why I'm celebrating you...

So, I give you a simply composed, but utterly heart-felt list of Reasons to Love You:

1. I love the way you love mom. I loved the way you couldn't take your eyes off of her on my wedding day, and who could blame you? A genius or a dim-wit would tell you she was stunning. I love the way you love lots of things--summer watermelons and the fruits of your garden labors, us kids, sports, Warren Buffet, patriotism, the Nickel, the elk hunt, every kind of natural beauty--even the vast expanse of Nevada nothingness, Cabella's, your Danner Boots, and Classical Gas.

2. Thanks to your sturdy genes, I hardly ever get sick. I can put in a full day's work painting, cleaning, organizing, or refinishing furniture without too much fatigue (unless I'm pregnant, in which case I'm a yawning zombie after one strenuous hour.) I'm fairly determined to reach my goals. And I've got good strong calf muscles, (just like yours. Thanks for those.) And thanks (?) for the dominant dental genes you passed, which allowed me all the character-building experiences that come when you still have a gnarly set of buck teeth in the eighth grade. But thanks also, for your hard work, and by extension, your hard-earned money that financed the modern miracle of orthodontia for straightening. Me and my smile will always be indebted, dad. Thanks, thanks, thanks and a big straight smile of gratitude.

3. I love the way you encourage Nate and I to "cleave unto each other and be one flesh," to make our own nest, and our own life. But whenever the possibility of moving closer comes up, you get cautiously excited and admit that you "wouldn't be disappointed to see us come home." You and mom created such a lovely home, dad. We can hardly help but want to be close enough to drive home to you guys every once in a while.

4. I love the way you laugh from the bottom of your gut at the Roy D. Mercer prank phone calls 'til tears squeeze out of your eyes and your breath turns to a barely audible wheeze. (The link should take you to a clip -- just appreciate it for the bit of unsophisticated Red Neck humor that it is and let me warn you that the "A-word" is used more than once. Apologies in advance.)

5. I love the fact that Dave Folsom and practical are unmistakably synonymous. I love the old khaki Dockers, plaid button down shirt, and smart pair of well-worn hiking sneakers that you wear to baseball games, track meets, wrestling matches and social gatherings. If a stranger were asked to pick the heart surgeon out of the assembled crowd, you'd be among the last suspected, I'm sure. I love how you talk to a hoity toity business suit and a hard-working pair of greasy coveralls with equal respect. I love how the measure of a man, in your eyes, has always had much more to do with the size of his heart than his bank account.

6. I love to imagine you as a twenty-five year old father--my twenty-five year old father. I love to think of you sitting on the bumper of a borrowed Volkswagen, crying your eyes out over a baby girl who, you were just warned, would likely have brain damage, kidney failure, and epilepsy--a baby girl who you had only known for a few hours, but were already impossibly concerned about. Pretty sweet for a man who's self-proclaimedly "not much of a 'baby guy'." And even though I can't remember them specifically, I love to think about the times that I got to go to class with you, the only married student at Brown University, in an infant backpack. A heart-melter of a mental image if there ever was one.

7. I love the way you insisted that we go to Wal*Mart and get some cold cereal the morning you came to visit us here in Dallas--as you can scarcely start your day any other way. And then while we were at the store, how you told me, "you know, sweetheart, I've got a little money on me, so why don't you go ahead and stock up on a few things." And so I did...we got some cheese, milk, cereal, even some real orange juice--which is an indulgent treat around these penny-pinching parts. I love how you always ask us if we're ok, as we leave, or if we need a little money for the road and then you tell mom to, "give 'em a little money for gas, Mindy. And so they can stop and get a bite to eat on the way." I just love those generous little gestures that make me feel, some strangely reassuring, residual inklings of Daddy'sLittleGirl-hood.

8. I love how you taught me that there's no substitute for hard work, and always maintained that, "with a little paint, some sweat equity, and a few hours of yard work, any house can be a cute, comfortable home." Those words ring through the recesses of my sweaty head while we pull weeds and paint rooms, trying to make a cute home of our twenty year old house.

9. I love the way you reached out with friendly, inclusive arms and swallowed Nate, a confused twenty year old, up in your compassionate care, believing in the potential that he couldn't even see in himself. And now that he's my husband, I love the way you treat him like one of your own sons--no disparity between biological child and in-law; just a lot of paternal concern and thoughtful generosity for all of us.

10. I love it when you cry. I especially loved the way you cried, (kind of a lot,) when Nate, Henry, and I drove out of your driveway in a tightly-packed Civic, to embark on a two thousand mile road trip. Destination: The Metroplex of Dallas, Texas for a dose of life in the "Real World."

I love you for all these reasons, but most especially for the simple, but inestimably wonderful fact that you're a Really Great Dad.

Happy Day,


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