He is "Uncle Tommy" to a million crazy kids.
He is the most loving husband and soulmate to my Mom.
He is the coolest Poppy ever to six sweet grandchildren.
He is the Howard County Police.
He is the "Room Mother" of the year...every year...at Lisbon Pre-Kindergarten, Lisbon Elementary School, Glenwood Middle School, and Glenelg High School.
He is the son of the best grandparents anyone could have ever asked for.
He is a brother.
He is a helpful neighbor, always lending a hand to anyone who needs it.
He is a caring friend.
He is a basketball coach.
He's that crazy guy in the Maryland Terps hat driving the blue truck to the Woodbine Inn, the party guy on the beach in another country making friends with all the locals, the guy you run into at the grocery store and the next thing you know, you're sitting with him at his bar having a beer.
He's the Dad in the front office of the high school bringing his kid a special lunch again, or the shoes she needs for practice after school that she forgot at home. He's the Dad who has a lobster waiting for you on the dinner table simply because it was your first day of school. He's the Dad who sits through hours of dance recitals, probably miserable, but with flowers in hand waiting to see you when it's over. He's the stay-at-home Grandfather giving all 6 grandkids a golf cart ride around the farm at the same time.
He's the guy bailing hay all day on the farm, fishing at the pond with a grandkid in one hand and a Coors Lite in the other, leaving work early to just pick his kids up from the bus stop. He's the guy jumping waves and kayaking with his kids in the ocean, sending his wife and daughters "just because" flowers, watching sports and cracking jokes all day with his son.
He's the biggest John Lennon fan you'll ever know, the guy who can talk to you about the history of music and wars and books and sports for hours on end, the Green Bay Packers fan who tells everyone that Brett Favre is his cousin (don't believe him).
He's the uncle that takes all ten billion cousins to the movies on Thanksgiving Day, the husband that has a birthday message for his wife written in the sky, the neighbor that will invite you over for crabs on the patio in the summer.
He's the funniest person you'll ever meet.
He's my Dad.
He's the Dad that spanked me when I was really bad, and cried happy tears when I made him really proud.
He's the Dad that centers his life around his family. The Dad that all guys should strive to be one day.
Instead, I'm going to close this blog post with a letter to my Dad...
First and foremost, I probably wouldn't even have this blog and be such a reader and writer if it weren't for you, the person who taught me to read at age TWO. Thank you for devoting so much of your life to making me a smart little girl and for involving yourself so much in my academics from day one, inside and outside of the classroom. Thank you for setting a great example of why it's important to be smart and where it can get you in life. You are easily one of the most intelligent people I know, and you've always encouraged me to read books, to write stories, to learn, and to listen. I would like to think that I know more about music, geography and history than many people my age. I have you to thank. Most importantly, thank you for always accepting the best that I can do, even if it's not great. Your encouragement of my studies does not give me any uncomfortable pressures or stresses; It puts me at ease knowing that you are happy with me when I do my best, and that that's all you ask for. Thank you for working so hard to give me and my siblings the opportunity to go away to a school of our choice. For this, I am eternally grateful.
Thank you for all of the countries you have taken me to. Not many people can say that they annually spent a summer month in Canada (and Maine) with their Dad growing up. The mountains we climbed, the trails we hiked, the animals we saw, the food we ate, the museums we visited, and everything in between gave me a thirst for adventure at such a young age. I didn't appreciate it then as much as I do now. All of these travel plans that stir in my head are a product of the trips and vacations that you have taken me on all of my life. Thank you for encouraging me to explore and discover what is different.
One of my favorite moments with you was the night that Sparky died. It was easily the worst day of my entire life, but it was also an emotional bonding experience on another level. I had already said my goodbyes the day before, sobbing on the hospital floor, and I had all of my tears out of me...or so I thought. I was with Danny when it happened, and he took me out to dinner, and I thought I was fine. Then you came home from the hospital, and his battle with cancer and a broken heart was finally over. You said to me and Mom, "I'm an orphan." Remember how hard I sobbed in your arms when you gave me a hug? You stayed up with me all night long in the basement, crying and telling stories about Sparky. I said to you, "I already miss him so much, Dad, and I wish he could still be a part of my life, " and you said to me, "Then honor him." I will never forget that. As the sun was coming up, you told me to go to sleep. When I woke up, you were still there next to me in the basement. Thanks for not leaving. I needed you that day.
Another one of my favorite moments with you was when I presented my Senior Thesis at my Senior Spring Dance Concert. I surprised you by dedicating a dance to you and Mom in memory of Leah. It was so dark, and I couldn't really see anyone in the auditorium, but I could see you. I looked at you and only you the whole time, and I could actually see the tears running down your face. You told me afterwards that you had never seen me dance so beautifully before, and that you were so proud of me. It was then that I realized that I did not disappoint you by not pursuing basketball and lacrosse and becoming the outstanding athlete that you were. You were always proud of me with my dancing, and the dedication was my way of thanking you for that.
One of your favorite moments with me, I already know, was when I gave that speech at the fair. I didn't forget a single word, and I stayed true to exactly who I am. You were so proud of me for that, amongst other things. You must have told every person at the fair that day that you were my Dad. I may have lost, but I've never felt like such a winner.
Thanks for reassuring me we were going to be okay when Granny died, for driving 100 miles an hour screaming at people on the road in Virginia Beach when I got bit by a shark, for getting my leg out of the Burger King playpen when I somehow stuck it through an opening. Thanks for being a second dad to all of my friends, for making me proud to talk about how in love my parents are, for grounding me when I completely deserved it and teaching me right from wrong.
I didn't inherit your blue eyes, but I inherited your stubbornness, your sense of humor, and your drive. I do wish I had your blue eyes, but oh well. Thanks for these qualities.
Most of all, now that I'm older, thank you for showing me the kind of man that I need to be looking for in a husband. Just by being you, you've taught me never to settle for less. Thank you for that.
Even though you've never said it to me, One of your famous lines is "never date anyone until you find someone the same quality as your father." As far as I'm concerned, that's going to be pretty tough.
I love you, Dad! I miss you today. Hopefully I'll be seeing you next week?...
the little girl you raised. Anna Michelle.