Even though I'm writing this to celebrate your birthday, I want you to know that this is how I feel about you every day of my life. I am truly grateful for your presence in my life and I could not have had a better role model than you.
Growing up, my friends were always intimidated by you, but how could they not be? You were this tough looking bearded man with a deep, raspy voice; you were quiet and reflective, and I think that showed a sign of intelligence, something that frightened other people. While others saw you as the man who worked in the cotton mill, the man who loved cars, and the man who could fix anything; that wasn't what impressed me. As a child the greatest thing about you was while you were a hardworking, dependable man in the eyes of the rest of the world, to me, you were just Daddy. You were the man who put me on your shoulders so I could see the world, you were the man that played PacMan with me, read me stories, and made sure that I felt safe and loved.
I can remember one of your many life lessons; I was in the second grade and I really wanted to watch The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse; but the problem was, it came on shortly after I got home from school and that particular day, I had spelling words to write for homework. Being the clever kid I thought I was, I wrote them all down as quickly as I could and thought I could get away with it. A few minutes later you came to check and you took one look at the scribbled mess and said something along the lines of, "This is sloppy work, you're not going to turn this into the teacher. Look at this, how do you expect her to read these?" Though you were completely right, my love for Mickey Mouse completely overtook my better sense of judgment and after plenty of crying and trying to reason, I did my homework and I remember going to you and saying, "Daddy, you're right. If you're going to do something, it's better to do it the right way." I think I remember saying this through sniffling. I know you probably don't remember this, but I do and it's something that I always think about whenever I find myself wanting to give up or take the easy way out. To this day, I don't think I got to see that episode of Mickey Mouse, but I would have never remembered it. What I remember is the day my dad taught me the value of work ethic.
As I got older, I began to notice just how much you really did believe in hard work, since it seemed like work was all that you did, but I am truly thankful to have a father who would put himself through hours of labor every day just for me. All of those early mornings, weekends, and holidays just so I could have a better life, I am amazed at how much you did for me. I don't think I'll be able to express in words what an inspiring example of servitude and humanitarianism that your life has been to myself and countless others.
As a teenager, seeing my father go to work every day while legally blind was probably the most inspiring thing I could've ever witnessed (but also scary, because you couldn't see and you insisted you were fine) You had no other choice, you could've stayed out of work, you could've given up, but instead, you went to work every day; you were more afraid of giving up in front of me than getting hurt. I love you so much for this and I will never be able to thank you enough for all that you have done for me.
I could go on and on about how you have been a father figure to my friends, how you value your community and help those in need, how you've shown me that treating a person with respect, no matter what they can offer you in return. I also thank you for showing me the love of God; no, you didn't make me memorize scripture or force me to go to church, but you showed me God's love through your compassion for man.
So, if you ever feel like you've never accomplished anything in your short 63 years, just remember that for just one person you have been a businessman, a construction man, a plumber, a doctor, a teacher, a chef, a friend, a vet, a humanitarian, and most importantly, a dad. For just one person you have changed the world and I wouldn't be the same person I am today without your guidance, and while I am still learning exactly how to be the person God intended me to be. I'm glad I have you to pray for me, love me, and support me.
Thank you so much Daddy