I’ve spent many of my recent quiet moments reflecting on my father and my special relationship with him. Some of his lessons come from conversations, but most come from observing how he interacts with the world, and with me. From a father to his daughter, these are the lessons I’ve learned about real love.
Real love was making me Minnie Mouse pancakes on Saturday mornings. Growing up, I’d often have cousins or friends sleep over on Friday nights. My dad would pitch up the tent in our backyard (or we’d camp out in the living room) and he’d stay up late with us teaching us about the constellations, telling us funny stories, and wake up early to prepare our favorite pancake breakfast. He’d pour the batter by hand in the specific shape each kid wanted: monster trucks, letters, and soccer balls, but I loved my Minnie Mouse pancakes and I loved even more that my dad would make the time, and the mess, to cook them for me.
Real love was sneaking a note in my lunch when he knew I had an important test at school, a dance performance, a late-night shift at work, or simply felt I needed a little extra love. His notes were usually drawings of me singing, dancing, or walking our dog. He’d write one simple phrase: “Go get ’em, Squirt!” and every time I’d dig in those brown bags for my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I’d shed a tear because I was grateful that he cared.
Real love was giving me hugs even when I ran the car into a mailbox or forgot to fill up with gas so he had to come rescue me at midnight. He gave me hugs when I lost his GoPro in Utah Lake, when boys were mean, when I dislocated my knee and he saw that I was physically hurt. He gave me hugs every night before I fell asleep.
Real love was taking me up on the ski lifts almost every weekend spending hours teaching me how to carve down the slope on my snowboard. Same goes for water skiing and wakeboarding, our true family passion.
Real love was staying calm throughout my bumpy road to maturity. My father was never harsh or angry, and he was always patient whenever I made a mistake or struggled to find my way. Real love was being quick to forgive when I over-reacted or said hurtful things.
Real love was daily communicating love for who I was regardless of what I did or didn’t do. Real love was loving me through my process of learning difficult lessons.
Real love was chaperoning my dance team tours and taking me on dates to our favorite seafood restaurants.
Real love was teaching me how to handle money. It was also giving me a Techron Advantage fuel credit card in his name so I could drive home from college to be with my family when I didn’t have the extra cash for gas.
Real love was knocking on my bedroom door at night just to listen about my day, help me pick out my outfit for school, and do banana-honey facials with me the night before prom.
Real love was teaching me that education is important, and that if I wanted to achieve anything in life, I could. Real love was paying for 75% of that education as well.
Real love was sending me off to spend 7 months of my life on a mission in Chicago, Illinois.
Real love was being the first person to embrace me when I stepped out of the Salt Lake City temple doors when I was married and the last person to embrace me as I drove away that night with my husband. I still remember the image of him and my two older brothers waving goodbye at the curbside. My mom was inside staying warm and dry, but I know she loves me just the same!
So what means most to a daughter?
A father’s love.
Thank you for always reminding me of my uniqueness, dad; Marlee Moments (a.k.a. “blonde moments”) and all. Thank you for encouraging me to use my gifts to impact others as I step into the world. Thank you for teaching me how to live, to love, forgive, and be kind. Lastly, thanks for being the dad who is always full of adventure!
Happy Father’s Day, daddy. I LOVE YOU!