I’m sure raising a girl wasn’t always easy. I probably went through a ‘tom boy’ phase like any other young girl, but I had dozens of Barbies, held weekly bake sales and wore bows in my hair from a very young age. To your credit, you did what he could, acting as an assistant coach on my soccer team through middle school and taking me to my first Bengals and Reds games. I owe my love of sports completely to you. The fact that I probably know more about pro football than my husband is something I enjoy rubbing in often, and it’s all due to the countless Sunday afternoons I spent with you watching football on the floor in the living room.
I have memories of us building sand castles on the beach, riding in the passenger seat of the golf cart on Bald Head Island where we’d take our annual family vacation. I remember the summer before I turned 16, when you let me drive, which lasted all of 5 minutes before a guy pulled us over and asked to see my license. Then there were the dozens and dozens of gingerbread men we’d decorate during the holidays. And the times I asked you to read The Night Before Christmas or sing Silent Night to me over and over again, even when Christmas was months away. And you always obliged.
On my wedding day, mere minutes before we walked down the aisle where you’d lead me to the man I’d go on to spend the rest of my life with, I was cool as a cucumber. Not because I was super confident–I had reoccurring nightmares of falling down the aisle or tripping on my dress–but because you made me feel so at ease. You squeezed my hand, smiled and told me that I was beautiful, and in that moment I felt so proud and blessed to be your daughter. As we danced our father-daughter dance at the reception, I remember being let down when the song ended because I felt so content and safe in your arms. And I have to imagine that’s exactly how I felt the first time you held me.
I’m not the best with words, especially aloud, but I want to let you know how much you mean to me. I can’t say “thank you” enough, and all the Hallmark cards in the world won’t do justice to the amount of love, admiration and appreciation I have for you. I love you Daddy.