The father-daughter relationship is one of the most important relationships on earth, but many fathers often grossly underestimate their importance in the lives of their daughters, doubting their significance and influence and often withdrawing much too quickly from the essential bond formed in childhood and early adolescence. When a father checks out, whether that is through physical/emotional absence or abuse of any kind, his daughter’s sense of self-worth, ability to have healthy relationships, mental health, and ability to strive and achieve can profoundly suffer.
I’ve been incredibly fortunate, and sometimes, I wonder what I ever did to deserve all of the blessings in my life, the beautiful, strong bond I have with my father being just one of many. Throughout my life, my father has been a stable, loving presence, supporting and guiding me through my trials and tribulations, sharing in my triumphs, and being a shining example of how a man should act at all times and in all situations. I have fond memories of riding my bike beside my father, a marathon runner, while he ran, and then running with him, shoulder to shoulder, when I became old enough to dip my toe into the quickly consuming pool of long-distance running (I’ve been addicted to the sport ever since).
When he would go to the mall and bring home beautifully put together outfits for my mom (who is also one-of-a-kind) as a surprise gift, I was watching. When he would tell me that he loved me and that I was beautiful every single day, which he still does, I was listening. When he would write me notes and leave them for me to find, I was learning how to do the same. When he would tell me that everything would be OK, I believed him. Even if it wasn’t all OK, I felt, and still feel, protected by him. He is like my umbrella during a rainstorm – the rain is still falling, I can see it, touch it, and sometimes the wind blows it on me, but I am sheltered by his love and commitment to me as his child (no matter how old I become).
When we hear the word “hero,” it usually brings up images of super men (or women) with super powers, sweeping in and saving humanity from villains and natural disasters, but when I hear that word, in my mind’s eye, I see my father. The word “hero” to me is full of subtleties, small, quiet, stable, yet profound ways of making impacts and changing lives. A hero puts his best self forward and uses compassion, kindness, empathy, and non-violence to serve humanity, whether that is the entire world or his immediate family. Service without expectation of material gain or recognition is a true act of heroism, and my father is famous for his generosity. I only hope that someday I can repay him for all he has done and continues to do for me.
Dad, you’re my father and my hero. I love you.
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