Sunday, June 15, 2008

papa's day.

Father's Day is one of my favorite holidays. My dad is, without a doubt, one of the greatest loves of my life and one of the most amazing men and humans I've ever known. And I love the fact that he gets his own special day.

Today I will be driving to my parents' house with my beloved, Ross, to celebrate this special day with my dad. But before I do that, I thought I'd write a quick post about why I think my dad is so great and some of the wonderful things I've learned from him.

1. Back when he was in high school, my dad was in Catholic seminary, studying to be a priest. After high school, he went off to college at Wheeling Jesuit College (now University) in Wheeling, W.V. Then he met my mom, and, well, that was the end of studying to be a priest! Regardless, he's always been a man of great faith, unconditional love, and extreme kindness. God has always been in his heart, and I think that's awesome.

2. My parents have been married for 34 years. It hasn't always been easy. My mother suffers from a form of schizophrenia called schizoaffective disorder. She has been in and out of psych wards, hospitals, transitional care homes, etc. My father continues to stay by her side. Most men would leave if an illness as debilitating, difficult, and frustrating as this befell their wives. As a matter of fact, we just went through another "episode" with my mom--a pretty serious one--and he's still here, taking care of her, loving her unconditionally.

3. One of my most favorite lessons I learned from my dad was the importance of acknowledging people by their names. For example, every time we'd go to the grocery store, my dad would always thank the cashier by his or her name. It sounds like such a little thing, but after witnessing it in action over the years, and then trying it out myself, I realized that it is, in fact, quite a big deal. The cashier's face lit up, eye contact was made, and a smile crossed his or her face in a way that seemed to say, "Wow, thanks! You're acknowledging me as a real person and not just some robot behind the register." I suggest we all try to do this little act of kindness. You'll be amazed at the results. I continue to do it everywhere I go: the movie theatre, the post office, Blockbuster. It warms my heart every time.

4. My dad is big on eye contact. Anytime a serious discussion was being had, he'd demand (nicely, of course) that eye contact be made. I think it's his way of making sure that there's understanding and connection. He's such a softy, despite the fact that he's 6'4".

5. A family friend of ours was struggling after the loss of her husband--struggling financially, emotionally, etc. She was having significant trouble with her car. My dad, being the superstar that he is, bought her another one. It was used, but it was in good shape. That memory is one of the fondest about my dad. His selflessness and his natural ability to just help people out in big ways reminds me of the importance of thinking of others first, of wanting to make sure that others are comfortable, even if it makes me uncomfortable.

6. My dad got a bonus at work recently. It was significant. He ended up giving a portion of it away to a colleague who had some serious medical bills to pay off. 'Nuff said.

So, on this Father's Day, I honor my dad and I thank God for blessing me with a parent of extremely high regard, as well as a friend who is one of my best. I will never know the difficulties of being a parent until I have my own children, should that ever happen. But I do know the love of being a child to one of the greatest parents out there. And I wouldn't be half the woman I am today if it weren't for him.

Thanks, Daddy. I love you like you don't know.

with love from Pittsburgh,