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The View From My Father's Shoulders

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I learned to dance... because he offered me the tops of his shoes and his two gentle hands.

I learned to get dirty... because he encouraged me to climb trees.

I learned to love the sunlight dancing off the ocean... because he walked me over the dunes to see it for the first time.

I learned to compromise... because he gave me siblings.

I learned to be a friend to those siblings... because he's remained a friend to his.

I learned to throw like a boy... because he wouldn't have a daughter who throws like a girl.

I learned to sing with conviction, with a voice not half my sister's... because I listened to him sing, with a voice not half my Mom's, every night at home.

I learned to love string bands... because he dragged me to the Mummer's Parade.

I learned to save gently used paper plates... because he was a child of the Great Depression.

I learned faith in God... because he raised me to believe.

I learned to question that faith... because he taught me to speak my mind.

I learned to embrace my heritage... because it's impossible not to when he loves it so much he paints his beard green every March 17th.

I learned to be carefree... because he saved adult conversations for times when children were out of earshot.

I learned the importance of balance... because he worked hard and played equally hard.

I learned to be trustworthy... because he trusted me.

I learned to share certain things only with Mom... because, despite that trust, he would have locked me in a tower had he known.

I learned to treasure friendships... because he's maintained his best for over 50 years.

I learned that the best 32 seconds of college basketball occurred at the Spectrum on March 28, 1992... because we stood side by side, holding our breath, 10 rows behind Kentucky's net.

I learned that a smile and a kind word can turn someone's day around... because I watched him make that difference so many times.

I learned the power of positive reinforcement... because he never tore me down.

I learned to feel special... because he told me enough times that I believed it.

I learned to be present... because he whispered so frequently, "Remember this moment."

I learned to seek out silver linings... because he's always been a dreamer.

I learned to disagree politely... because he taught me responsibility for my words.

I learned compassion... because I watched him come apart over the loss of his best friend.

I learned courage... because that's what it took for him to stand before the crowd and eulogize that same friend.

I learned to fly... because he spent 24 years helping me grow wings before releasing me in my simple white gown on a windy afternoon in June.

I learned paralyzing fear...because he burdened me with the news that he had cancer.

I learned to value each day with him... because the radiation worked.

I learned the power of a grandparent's love... because I watched his face transform when we placed my son, his first grandchild, in his arms.

I learned the value of being proud of myself versus being prideful... because he took the time to teach me humility.

I learned respect... because he commanded it.

I learned confidence... because he believed in me.

I learned to follow my dreams... because I've watched his come true.

I learned my voice was worth hearing...because he listened to me.

I learned not to spoil my children... because, when others gave things, he gave me time, and with it we created cherished memories.

I learned to smile for my children always... because he taught me that my job as their parent is far more important than any drama in my life.

I learned, upon falling, to recover with dignity... because he raised me to be strong and move forward, holding my head high.

I learned that every year for him past 70 is a gift... because he's acutely aware that those are years his father never had.

I learned that authenticity is what I most respect...because he's always been a true original.

I learned that his opinion still matters... because when he told me, "I read what you wrote, and it moved me," I floated through the remainder of that day.

I learned that, although I'm too big to ride on his aging shoulders, his love for me is just as fierce... because I recognize it in his blue eyes, covered by glasses and surrounded by the lines of time.

I learned to be whole in a world full of broken women... because of the unconditional love of the first man who held me.

Happy Father's Day, Dad.

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