When I was seven, my dad and I were on our way home from my piano lesson in a quiet residential neighborhood. Out of nowhere, a teenage driver recklessly t-boned our car. No one was hurt, but I was terrified as I watched my dad furiously storm out of his seat and approach the young driver.
“My little girl is in this car,” he shouted. “You could have killed her!”
I was scared my father was about to get into a physical altercation with this boy. Thankfully, he didn’t. But my typically mild-mannered dad had never lost his temper so intensely. I remember thinking the accident could have harmed him, yet all he seemed to care about was me. Decades later, I’m a parent, so I understand how fiercely protective my father was at that moment. But I also know not everyone is blessed with the kind of dad who cares so wholeheartedly.
My father’s devotion has been unwavering throughout my 40-plus years of life. When I developed a love of softball as a young girl, he volunteered to help coach my team. When my computer broke down the night before a paper was due in graduate school, he dropped everything and drove an hour into the city to help me. When I feared ending a comfortable relationship in which I was no longer happy, he talked me through finding the courage to move on, which ultimately led me to my husband.
My dad can tell when I am stressed. All he has to do is look at my face—without a word, he knows . . . because he knows me. He’s put the time and effort into being the kind of father who is there for the good stuff and the hard stuff. A fixture in every crowd, he celebrated my successes, and he was equally there to help me find my way when times were tough.
Today, my two young daughters are privileged to have my dad as their Grampy. And he’s just as devoted to them as he’s always been to me. My 10-year-old recently auditioned for a school talent show. An introvert at heart, she was anxious to sing in front of a crowd. With a lifelong passion for music, my dad has experience performing. He sat patiently, helping my girl learn her song, note by note. I watched as he boosted her confidence by sharing his wisdom and experience. She knew he would help her every step of the way and that there was nowhere he would rather be than with her, enjoying their mutual love of music.
I know my dad will not be here forever. My mother’s unexpected death two years ago was a sobering, devastating reminder of life’s unpredictability. But it also jolted me into being more intentional about appreciating the people who are still here.
My father is someone who has shown up for me unconditionally every single day of my life. And I want him to know I’m forever grateful—not just on Father’s Day—but every day.