I love this picture, of a dad - my dad - meeting his firstborn child.
I love the feeling of awe you can clearly see on my dad's face.
The studying of a new baby, this thing you have helped create.
Suddenly the world has just changed.
No longer just livestock to feed, there is now a hungry little baby demanding food.
And oh so many special moments to share and memories to create,
snow banks to play in,
and tractor rides to take.
My parents didn't have a lot of money when we were growing up. The farm crisis hit when I was only a year or two old, and things were tight. Looking back now at pictures I can see it: a house that was badly needing paint and our old car complete with rust spots.
The important thing is that I never felt it. I never felt like I was missing out.
And it is because I wasn't.My parents worked hard to make sure we had everything that was truly important. And we had more than enough of all of those things.
There were birthday parties with cakes my mom baked herself and gifts under the Christmas tree. My dad insisted we have a pool, even if my mom wasn't thrilled. We took family vacations (ugh, Minnesota, again?!). We ate supper as a family every single night and talked around the dinner table. We laughed.
My dad taught me the value of hard work by making my sisters and me walk/ride beans for an entire summer to earn an original Playstation game console.
He taught me compassion by being respectful and kind to others, especially those with disabilities.
He taught me how to stand up for myself, which I did when I punched a bully in the face in 5th grade. (My proudest detention.)
He taught me to look for the good in other people just as he always does.
He taught me some really great swear words during all our sessions of hog-loading.
He encouraged and helped me develop my own opinions during all our lively debates. (My mom likes to call them arguments.)
He taught me that the little things matter when he got so excited over opening his birthday and Father's Day cards.
He taught me the value of a dollar by paying me with a can of pop after hours of pitching hog manure.
By loving my mom, he showed me the kind of love all girls deserve.
I have seen my dad's strength.
And a time or two I have seen him vulnerable, unsure of how to make things right.
I admire him much more for those times of brokenness - letting me see his emotions and his heart.
And partly because of that, I know I can count on my dad; he is going to show up when I need him.
Maybe not on time... but he will be there. And he will try his best to make things right.
Thank you Dad.
Thanks for playing farm with us on the living room floor.
Thanks for always swimming with us at the lake or in the pool (bonus points for throwing us in the air).
Thanks for giving us wide open space in the country to run free and explore.
Thanks for getting to know our friends (Hello, Jeff-dance anyone?!) and letting our house be a place we loved to hang out.
Thanks for giving us just enough freedom so that we never felt the urge to rebel.
Thanks for letting me be my own person, for holding your tongue when I moved away to Kansas at the age of 20- even though I know you thought I had lost my damn mind.
Thanks for still "debating" with me. You know I love a good political discussion.
And finally -
thanks for being Papa to my kids, the kind of grandpa that takes them for tractor rides and buys them all kinds of auction-find trikes and toys. Just like you did for me.
I love you.
Happy Father's Day.