Throughout the roller coaster that has been my relationship with you, we have gotten only stronger and better able to communicate. I spent the last month trying to think of a gift that is worthy of your ownership, but I have found that the best gifts are the ones that come from the heart.

Happy birthday Dad. I love you.

Jasmine Rainey

Hi Dad,

To begin, I would like to share part of a poem that I found, written by Edgar Albert Guest.

"Only a dad, but he gives his all
To smooth the way for his children small,
Doing, with courage stern and grim,
The deeds that his father did for him.
This is the line that for him I pen,
Only a dad, but the best of men."

I found this, and it got me thinking about how much I admire you. I don't know half of what you have been through, but I know that it is more than me. From your experiences, you have taught me how to avoid them. You've taught me that it takes a village to raise a child and that neighbors will not hesitate to snitch when you are doing something that you aren't supposed to. You've taught me how to be responsible with my money (a lesson I am still learning), how to treat those I disagree with, and how to use my voice effective and respectfully. Most importantly, you have taught me to be an independent, black girl.

Jasmine Rainey

Dad, I wrote in a journal some years ago and said, "I always look up to you because you are the epitome of strength and responsibility. I never want anything more than to make you proud." That statement is true to this very day. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be the perfect daughter, but you always remind me that you love me — not just for who I am, but for who I am becoming as well. You've never once given me a reason not to be myself around you.

With you, I know that I can root and toot to my heart's desire. With you, I can love whoever I want and know you will still accept me — and that might be the most important way you have shown your love. Coming out to you was nerve-racking, to say the least. I was scared that you might question it or not want me to be your daughter anymore, but you didn't react at all. You immediately reassured me that, "you are still my daughter and I love you." You may not have realized how grand of a gesture that was, but it meant everything to me.

Jasmine Rainey

I think the thing that I really love about you most, Dad, is that we have grown together. You have not remained the same person you were when I was three, thirteen, or seventeen — and obviously neither have I. You have always said that "we are smarter than we were yesterday," and it is unbelievably true, especially for us. Our relationship is stronger than it was yesterday or last week, last month, or last year. We are growing so close, and I can't imagine having it any other way.

I love you so much Dad. Happy birthday!

With love,

Your little princess