Having a dad like you is probably the greatest gift in my life. How fortunate I am to know that, no matter what, you and Mom are there to answer every morning, noon, and midnight call, whether the subject is, “what does this noise from my car mean?” or “why did this person break my heart?” There is no problem too big or small for you to make time for, no crisis which you cannot attempt to fix.
You are the dad who took 2 weeks out of his life to move me down to Miami: to drive 15+ hours with my furniture in a rented truck from Connecticut to Florida, to negotiate car and house leases on my behalf, to teach me how to aggressively drive on I-95 when I was scared to even pull out of the parking lot, to listen endlessly to my worries and fears, until I was ready to take on the rest of this adventure on my own. It took 2 weeks for me to get settled, but you never made me feel bad about that. I knew you would be there for as long as I needed you.
Life hasn’t always been perfect and we both have our flaws. But even in the most challenging times for our family, I have never doubted that you love me wholly and unconditionally.
You were a kid who grew up in the streets of New York. A kid who grew up without a dad of his own to guide him, a kid who grew up among unthinkable violence and poverty. No one would’ve thought that you would’ve made it out of the housing projects; a seemingly hopeless place which scared me to visit as a child, so saturated with noise and bodily fluids and grime and chaos.
No one would’ve expected that you would escape that street, that you would be the first in your family to graduate from college and then, the first to earn an MBA. You worked full time and went to school at night to make those dreams a reality, but I hardly remember any absence. What I do remember is you always making time to play with me, to talk with me, to know every facet of my life, to love me so very much.
You and Mom have worked tirelessly, so that my siblings and I could have experiences which you never had. You have never climbed mountains in Colombia, or explored ancient castles in Italy, or spent sun-soaked, carefree summers in Spain. With a selflessness that I cannot comprehend, you take joy in giving myself and my siblings these memories, even if you yourself may not ever experience them.
Dad, you and Mom have been leaders in your community for decades, sharing your experience, strength, and hope with those that need it most. How many times were you late to pick me up from ballet or soccer practice, because you were giving someone who didn’t have a car a much-needed ride? Or counseling someone on the brink of a destructive decision, outside on the porch late at night for hours, when you would’ve preferred to be in bed, watching TV? Through your example, I have witnessed the beauty of the human soul to utterly transform, to take the winged demon of addiction and turn it into a dove-like vessel of love and selflessness.
You may be selfless, but you are far from serious. You have always been the “fun dad”, the “cool dad”, that all of my friends loved to spend time with. “You get your quick wit from your father”, Mom has said a thousand times. It’s true.
I couldn’t be prouder to be compared to you. Each day, your humor, tenacity, and great love for our family inspires me.
The only times that you would truly, truly get mad at me were when you felt like I was disrespecting Mom or one of my siblings.”Build people up, don’t tear them down”, was the constant refrain of my childhood. Though it may have lead to many fights, especially during my teenage years (shoutout to the time I threw a waffle at pregnant Mom!), you have always forced me to confront my behavior, both good and bad. You never let me take the easy way out, because you knew that approach would not make me strong.
“You think you’re so tough”, some loser texted me, after he was rude to me on a date and I walked out on him. No, I don’t think that I am “so tough”. But I do know that I am my father’s daughter. I am strong and I am confident and I am bold, because that’s how he raised me.
We didn’t always have everything material that I wanted in the world, but you never failed to remind me that we had far more than most, even when it didn’t feel like it. Some years were more prosperous than others, but through it all, we always have had each other, and that has been enough. In fact, it has been everything.
One day, you won’t be there to move me in to a new home, to answer every stupid question that I may have, to illuminate the corners of my life with daily humor and wisdom. I pray that day is far, far, far in the future because I cannot comprehend living in a world without a dad like you to guide and inspire me.
You are my best friend and I love you so much.