My dad has stood beside me through life’s ups and downs. He has pushed me to do things on my own, he has encouraged me to reach out for help, he has raised me to have an independent spirit, and he has given me the gift of mindful prayer before acting. He has taught me how important it is to respect everyone in the room, to listen to opinions, and to find common ground from everyone’s ideas. He has taught me to stand up for what I believe in and to not back down, no matter the opponent.
With only two daughters my dad could have chosen to treat us like princesses or only let us take part in activities that were considered more ‘girl' focused. Instead he decided that we were fair game for home wrestling matches. The name he gave himself during these bouts was ‘big girl’. The character he created was meant to represent our fiercest opponent on whatever team we were on. He would not relent until someone had dominated the match or we tapped out. He never let us win. We had to earn it. Out of these silly wrestling matches came important lessons, ones that were rarely spoken; there will always be someone stronger or faster, someone who should beat us, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t win, it just meant we had to work harder. It was also a reminder that hard work never guarantees a win. There were plenty of times we would still lose to ‘big girl’ but we might as well put up one hell of a fight. That may seem like a contradiction, but isn’t that the way life really is? What you want will not just come to you; you have to work for it and you have to be willing to deal with the fact that sometimes you will still fail. Life after all can be unfair.
Through his example he has quietly showed us how to walk through the pain and battles that life can bring. The older I get the more I appreciate that he raised me 1) to believe in myself and my abilities and 2) to pray about it. He knew that there would always be failures in life and that it would be unfair at times. He knew that he couldn’t pick me up and fix every bump, bruise, and disappointment that came my way. So his truths never relied on running back to dad or anyone else to save me (though I do call him a lot for prayer), his truths taught me to rely on myself, have some faith, and stay true to my beliefs.
Watching my dad and his battle with cancer over the years I have realized he is still ‘big girl’; strong, willful, unyielding, and poised to take on anything. He has continued to remind me that while the fight may not always be fair, that doesn’t mean you don’t fight, and that doesn’t mean you can’t win. I continue to see a man unshaken in his faith, not only in God but in himself. And I have realized his faith is why he never set limits on my sister or I. If he was living in faith then how could he ever tell us we could not be something? He couldn’t and he never did. His faith is an unyielding belief that anything is possible and so for his two daughters it is as well.
His remarkable faith in God, himself, and his family is an unending gift that I cherish. It is one he has rarely had to speak to me. While encouraging me to always be my best self and follow my dreams he has shown me his faith, more importantly he has imparted it upon me. My dad has always believed in me, he still does, he sets no limits or boundaries on the possibilities of my life. I know no matter what goes on in my life that I have the tools he has given me and I have him there to support me. My dad continues to serve as reminder that no matter the obstacle ahead or the battles you face that if you work hard and put your faith in the right things then there is always hope, and that is something we all need.