My Dad is a rock. He is the steadiest person I know. I can count on him for anything and, though we’ve definitely had our moments in the past, he never gets mad at me when I screw up. Once a few years ago, when Mom was in the hospital, I got really frustrated at something that now seems incredibly stupid and I threw a cupcake at him. (I missed.) He didn’t get mad, he just picked it up and threw it away.
I can talk to my Dad for hours. I can also not talk to him for hours. Sometimes when I visit we just sit and watch movies and hang out, not saying much, but somehow having fun.
My Dad is incredibly tough. He knows how to ride horses, and brand cows and I know for a fact he’s castrated at least one bull. He’s cut the rattles off rattle snakes. He still keeps the rattles in a jar in his garage. He knows how to shoot a gun (and hit what he’s aiming at.)
My Dad is also an incredible softie. Last weekend I was staying at his house while I was home in Tucson and I caught him watching NASCAR and making race-car noises.He goes hiking every weekend and makes friends with the animals he sees and photographs. He pretends not to like my Mom’s cat Roxy, but always holds and pets her when he goes over to her house. When his Dad was dying, he moved in to live with and take care of him full time even though they didn’t get along that well, even though it was emotional and hard.
My Dad is a hero. He spends his life helping get troubled, abused, homeless teenagers to stay in high school and go to college. He helps his students fundraise for Prom. He gets really mad at adults who put themselves before the kids in their lives. This year a student gave him a globe with an engraving that says “you opened up the world for me.”
My Dad is an incredibly complex person and I feel so lucky to have him always standing quietly in my corner; teaching me without lecturing me, loving me without judging me.