The Strongest Man In The World

I can remember three things that I firmly believed when I was little.

1. The granola bars with the orange packaging were orange-flavored, not peanut butter, so I certainly wouldn’t want them, and my older sister didn’t have to share.

2. My mom was having an affair with the man she sang about in the song “He Walks With Me (In the Garden)” [For those not familiar with this particular BIBLE HYMN, the “he,” is in reference to Jesus.]

3. There was absolutely no one in the world stronger than my dad. I cried and argued when my sister told me this wasn’t true.

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Whist I eventually learned to read (much to my sister’s dismay) and grew to realize that my mom was not cheating on my dad with Jesus Christ, my third belief did not waver. Yes, it changed a little, but the basic idea stayed the same. My dad never stopped being the strongest man in the world. After all, strength can be determined and measured in ways other than bench presses or in how high you can throw your daughter in the air.

Strength is not always being strong. 

In 22 years, I have only seen my dad cry three times. I first saw him cry on September 12, 2001; the American flag was lowered to half-staff. The last time I saw him cry was when he realized he couldn’t protect his daughter from the cruel words and actions of the outside world.

Strength is living with three females who tend to over-share.

We freaked out when he left his vasectomy (sorry, TMI) pamphlet on the kitchen counter. But for 20-some years, he has been witness to menstrual jokes, gone on emergency runs to CVS, and never (fine, rarely) complains about the underwear and bras thrown about our rooms when my sister and I come home.

Strength is working tirelessly to create something long lasting and worthwhile.

With my mom by his side, my dad has built a family, a home, a career, countless pieces of furniture, and the basis of a solid future for me and my sister. If he didn’t have two kids, my dad could have retired years ago. But because he has such a strong work ethic, his daughters have had comfortable lives and will both graduate from college without any student loans. Not everyone is that lucky.

Strength is fixing (almost) every problem two daughters could throw at one person.

How do I fix this? What does this mean? My computer broke. My replacement computer broke. My car won’t start. I need a lawyer.

Strength is setting a standard that will be hard to measure up to. 

When it comes to talent, selflessness, making people laugh, and whipping up the best scrambled eggs known to man, I have yet to meet someone who can compare to my father.

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Happy Birthday, Dad. You are, and always will be, the strongest man in my world.

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