I must have been 12, or maybe 13. It could have been Thanksgiving Day, but I can’t be certain. I remember it was cold. Very, very cold. It was raining, too. Or snowing. Or probably more like sleeting. I remember the thick, dense clouds that hung low in the sky. It’s difficult to remember a lot about that day. In fact, there are countless details that I’ve forgotten. But the wind? The wind, I remember. It was fierce, cutting across my face like a knife. The layers I was wearing didn’t matter. There was no defense against the freezing cold temperatures.
It was the day I was running my very first 10K. Was it a Turkey Trot race? Maybe, but I can not be sure. I know my brother was there and I vaguely remember my uncle being there, too. Without a doubt, I remember my Dad being there.
The cold temperatures and fierce winds raced across the open fields of the country roads that morning. The intensity of the weather was almost more than I could bear. I was certain I wouldn’t make it. Certain that I would crumble against the winds slaps. I was certain that this would be my first and last 10K.
And then my Dad stepped in.
I remember the way he paced himself less than a stride ahead of me. Stay right behind me, Summer, let me block the wind. I remember following in his footsteps and almost feeling that his protection gave me power. Step by step, mile by mile, I followed my dad in the safety of his shadow.
I have countless examples like this one. Examples of my Dad being the kind of Dad that I wish for everyone. The kind of Dad that every man should strive to be. The kind of Dad that I am so blessed to have.
Today is my Dad’s birthday and I simply want to say thank you. . .
Dad, thank you for being a man of integrity. Thank you for living your life in such a way that leaves no questions about who you are and what you stand for. Thank you for being the same man inside and outside our home. Thank you for continually teaching me not to take life, or myself, too seriously. Thank you for being a living example of quiet strength and unbendable courage.
That is a lot, but there is more. . .
Dad, thank you for knocking on my door and giving me a hug before you went to work each morning. Thank you for taking me to “dive” restaurants where the food is always the best. Thank you for running with me. . . first when you were faster than me and still when I was faster than you. Thank you for letting me join you on so many of those Sunday morning drives to Lima–those hours in the car remain as some of my fondest memories.
Thank you, Dad, for being a constant in our home. For teaching me to appreciate the simple joys in life–fresh air, the sun rise, a great meal, a good nights rest. Dad, thank you for loving Mom the way you did. The way you loved her helped me to know the way I deserved to be loved. Your commitment, I have no doubt, will carry on for generations.
I realize I am rambling, but there is just so much. I guess what I really want to say, Dad, is thank you for stepping in to block the wind time and time again. But more than anything, thank you for knowing when the time came for you to step out from in front of me so that you could walk beside me.
Dad, I celebrate you today. I celebrate you always.
I love you.