Today is the birthday of one of the most important men in my life. While my husband is the most important man now, up until I got married it was my dad. And let’s be honest, there will always be a place in my heart where he is number one. He’s the 1st man I ever loved and the guy I’ve always turned to for advice for everything…basically THE man in my life for 25+ years. For some women, maybe even most, it’s their moms who they are the closest to. Especially as I’ve gotten older I see that the majority of my girlfriends have a best friend relationship with the lady who gave them life – talking all the time, shopping, brunch, spa days etc… And it’s not like I have a bad relationship with my mom, we talk all the time and she’s always there when I need her but I’m just closer to my dad. He’s my guy. We went through some family stuff when I was in high school and our relationship suffered and it was hard. I mean those years sucked for me and for him. But we made it through and I sometimes think those crummy years helped me to appreciate him even more. He showed me no matter what happens he will always be there for me…loving me unconditionally.
When I was trying to decide what college to transfer to after I realized the 1st one I went to wasn’t for me, it was dad who helped me figure it out. I ended up at his alma matter, majoring in the same thing he did. I even worked at the same student newspaper doing the same job he did just about 30 years after him. And I credit that education choice with getting me the job I did out of college which has translated into 8 years at the best company I could ever imagine working for (not to mention the place I met my husband at).
When Chris and I got in a big fight just before our wedding and I was re-evaluating our entire relationship (as I write this I realize it’s very familiar to a scene in Father of the Bride), it was dad who I called, crying and it was dad who talked me down from the ledge. Who helped me realize that what Chris and I had was better and stronger than the issue at hand. And that everything was going to be all right. Guess what? Dad was right again. And as he walked me down the aisle a few months later I once again thanked my lucky stars for having him in my life.
When I was contemplating a job change a few months ago it was dad who helped me to look at the pros and cons. Who gave me advice on bosses and salaries and reminded me that “you will always make more money” and that at 29 years old, I had many years left in my career and to take the job where I would be the happiest. Right again.
It was dad who taught me how to manage money (although Chris would sometimes disagree with this one haha). He was the one who introduced me to Quicken and budgeting spreadsheets and helped me figure out how to pay off all my credit card debt when the numbers creeped up after college (my credit card still has a zero balance).
I love country music, cowboy boots, wide open spaces and rows of corn because of dad. Well, maybe not dad so much as dad’s parents :) It was in 2nd grade, on a road trip back to North Dakota with Grandma Helen and Grandpa Dick that I heard my 1st country music song. And it was subsequent trips back to ND that I watched cattle branding 1st hand, fed a bottle to a baby sheep, danced the 2-step and visited my Grandpa’s homestead. Grandpa taught me how to garden and what it takes to care for chickens (picking eggs straight from the hen house is something everyone should experience), Grandma taught me how to cut roses and the value of real, home cooked meals (eggs over medium, macaroni & cheese from scratch with velveta, and cinnamon toast will always remind me of her). Heck, my wedding was in a barn and red cowboy boots were on my feet because of my grandparents. And while dad does not share my love of all things country, he was raised by people who did which means I’m giving him credit for this one too.
My love for fitness also comes from my dad. I’m pretty sure I grew up in a basketball gym. From the time I was a baby I was in the bleachers watching my dad play, watching his alma matter Aberdeen HS play, watching (and keeping stats) as he coached my brother and then later as my brother played. When no one we knew was playing we scouted or we just sat and watched other people play. Every year we headed up to the state basketball tournaments and did nothing but watch basketball for days on end. I cried when the team I was rooting for lost. I went to the Final Four. I played basketball in middle school, earned my letter keeping stats in high school and coached youth basketball in college. I still try to take the 1st two days of March Madness off. Without really realizing it at the time, all of this basketball helped me realize and value being fit and healthy. Ironically I did not get into working out and fitness until college but sports in general still played a huge role in my life. Even though I didn’t really play them, I have always loved watching them and being around them. And it made perfect sense when I decided I wanted sport to always be in my life and I chose a career and a company that could make that happen. When I finally did start getting into working out at a gym it was my dad who took me for the 1st time and showed me all the machines and taught me which workouts to do. It was dad who clued me in that our family body type means I’m heavier on the bottom and leaner on top and that I should always pay attention to my arms to help balance it out. And it was he who stressed the importance of tricep exercises so as not to have wiggly chicken arms when I got old (FYI – my triceps are probably my favorite part of my body now). And it was dad who paid for my 1st personal trainer (whose exercises I still use today).
I could go on forever about my dad and what I’ve learned from him but I’ll end with being a parent. I’m not one yet but I hope that one day when I do become one I can be just like him. He has been an amazing one to myself, my brother and to Payton. Always loving us, never judging us, being there with just enough guidelines and boundaries to keep us safe but to let us grow and make our own decisions. He’s always there with an ear to listen, arms to hug, and words to make it all ok.
I love you Dad. Happy Birthday.