Father’s Day is coming up soon, and with it we remember the reasons why we love our dads. My dad’s birthday and Father’s Day always run within a week of each other, so this is kind of a combo special occasion. I will say this: My dad is not perfect. He is sometimes stubborn, easily offended and often angry, but despite these few flaws, (if he was talking about himself there would be many more) he is a great man. I’m not just saying this as a doting daughter—I am saying it as a person. I see the way men ask my dad for advice, the way they seek his counsel, and it makes me so happy. See, the way to my heart isn’t cake, or shoes, or books (although some might think so). It is being kind, and people who are kind to my dad are the best kind of people.
My dad is blind. Not just legally blind, but actually can’t-see-anything-but-darkness blind. He has been for about eight years now, and it was an adjustment—it still is sometimes—but mostly we’ve all gotten used to this new reality. In the midst of his sickness, before it was apparent that this blindness would persist, it wasn’t hard to imagine that we would laugh about this later. At 15, the idea that he wouldn’t get better hadn’t even crossed my mind, and my dad was so strong. Not in that way sick people are strong when fighting their disease—he had the kind of strength built by weights and playing basketball at the park. In the years since my dad’s initial sight loss, we’ve gotten used to our new lives. We even joke about it. First off, Dad is not Daredevil (not even close), and his stick does not turn into a nunchuck, but he does like to tap me with it sometimes.
The reason I decided to share this with you is because I wanted you to know why he’s my hero. It’s not entirely because in the face of trying times he was unwaveringly strong and has adjusted well to an extraordinary circumstance, even though he has. Mostly it’s because he was always like that. It took some dark times and me growing up into a slightly less selfish teenager to realize what I was missing while Dad was at work every day. It seems that nowadays he’s kinder, more understanding, but still the strong presence in my house. He’s my go-to for advice and I’m his source for pop culture that he misses. We still disagree, mostly on what books to read and occasionally politics and religion, but underneath that he is still my strong dad who wants me to have the world, a man who would carve it out and give it to me if I asked him. I’ve learned a lot about the man I want to marry from talking to my dad and seeing the way he treats my mom and sister. It sounds corny to say, but he is our family’s moral center, and I learned right from wrong, slowly but surely. I am grateful for his strength and wisdom, but mostly grateful that he taught me how to move on.
There is more to him than his blindness—in fact, sometimes it’s easy to forget. He is quick to make a corny joke that I refuse to laugh at, all while I am secretly smiling. But it’s his intelligence, kindness and quick wit that captivate me. At his core, he is a person who loves his family, fortunately that’s never been something I’ve had to question. I know how blessed/lucky/fortunate I am to have a great dad (and a great family in general), but this Father’s Day I hope you take the time to thank your dads, grandads, uncles, and brothers for being stand-up guys. Because my bar is set high and I can only imagine what it might look like if I didn’t have a dad who was willing to show me I was worth all the hard work and effort.
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