I’ve been a self proclaimed daddy’s girl my whole life, just ask my momma. Whether we were riding bikes all over town, building science projects in the garage, or dancing in the living room, we were pals, friends, and playmates.
In fact, my dad has called me his buddy all of my life, and to this day, he’ll throw his arm around my neck and whisper in my ear, “You’re still my buddy, aren’t you?” Yes, a thousand times yes.
This week Dad turned 78 years old – it just doesn’t hardly seem possible. I’m so grateful that he is still healthy, mischievous, and full of life. In lots of ways, I’m his mini me. From the awkward gate of my flat-footed walk to my wacky offbeat sense of humor. Truth is, there is nothing I love to do more than get him belly laughing and crying over the silliest of sillies.
Even growing up, I could wiggle myself out of trouble with the slightest of smiles. More than once I got Dad to crack up, only to say, “Hey Dad, you can’t punish me if you’re laughing at me.” We’d crumble into a heap of giggles. Bless my poor mother, as this is not when she found either of us amusing, trust me. Dad’s soft spot meant mom had to be the disciplinarian, and I’m so grateful she was.
Dad had to travel a lot for work, but when he was home he was a one-man jungle gym and entertainment center. I rode on his back to bed while he whinnied and neighed, most of the time busting up into giggles before we could make it down the hall.
He’d take me to his work as a mechanics training instructor on the weekends, where I’d set up his classroom, draw love notes on the board, and wheel around the shop on the creeper. To this day the smell of grease and old books is a smell uniquely dad.
Probably the greatest legacy he has given me is my love of all things four-legged. I swear that man would live in a barn and sleep on a bale of hay to be near a horse. He loves to blow in their noses and soak up their scent. He’s got a calm around the critters that I appreciate.
He’s our resident ranch hand around the farm when we need a watchful eye over the critters. On those rare instances when Cowboy has not been here, I’ve called Dad to help me put medicine in a horse’s eye, de-skunk a dog (seriously not fun AT ALL), and even kill a snake or two.
Truth is that Cowboy and I took the risk to buy the farm because of stories Dad told about how he wanted to live in the country, but never quite got all the way there. How in life sometimes you have to take a risk, so you don’t look back and wish you had. We’ve had the land 10 years this summer and lived here for 7, and I really can’t imagine it any other way. Another one of dad’s telltale fingerprints on my life.
There are moments when I become fully aware of just how precious life is, and overwhelmed with gratitude for the rock my parents have always been. Don’t get me wrong, life is not perfect. We’ve had our arguments, hurt feelings, and frustrations, but above all I have always known how much I am loved. For that, I am eternally grateful.
So as my dear dad starts his 79th trip around the sun this year, I watch in awe and wander at his kindness, his humor, and his love. There is none other quite like him, and I’m so blessed that he is my dad. Momma has often called us the mutual admiration society, proclaiming that to be a member you must think the other walks on water. And I guess that is true. I love you, buddy!