Father’s Day never meant anything more than a day set aside to tell my dad I loved him followed by handing over a Hallmark card saying the same thing. I never felt the tug of my heartstrings or the urge to never leave his side on “his” day and I despised those friends that did because it was a summer day and we had things to do, like swing at the park and have a lemonade stand.
He didn’t believe I was a girl until I was placed in my mom’s hands and the doctor announced that I, just like the ultrasound said, was in fact a girl. Can you blame him, though? I mean after three sons what are the chances that he would have a child dressed in pink with pigtails.
Like my brothers, I was in many activities throughout the years yet the presence of my dad was rarely there. Hockey games came before dance performances and after a while I was use to my mom being the only one staring back at me in the front row. He was a busy man juggling patients in the office, surgery in the OR, and being on-call one weekend a month. Us kids knew that when his pager went off, it meant that he would soon be making a phone call and turning on his car to head to the hospital.
When the time came to send me off to college, I was like any other freshman who couldn’t wait to be on their journey to full independence. Those years were a time of transition and growth and for me and my dad's relationship, the growth meant that we only grew farther apart.
I will never forget saying goodbye to my parents after their first visit to Denver. As we pulled up to the airport and suitcases were taken out of the car, my dad spoke words to me that to this day still give me goose bumps.
"Care, I want you to know how proud I am of you and the life you have made for yourself in Denver. I love you, daughter."
For some of you, your dad may tell you things like this on the daily but for me, these words spoke volumes and I finally felt that tug on my heartstrings and the urge to never let go of our embrace because I didn't want him to leave my side.
Recently, my dad came to visit me and I had hands down the best weekend with him. Like, ever. We ran together, drank wine together, enjoyed a concert together; I shared my struggles and homesickness and he shared advice and comfort. We meshed that weekend in a way that has never happened and I am thankful that our relationship is now how I’ve always yearned it to be since way back when.
If it weren’t for you, dad, I wouldn’t shock people when I tell them I love mowing the lawn and pulling weeds. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t love getting dirt under my fingernails. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t know how to throw a spiral and have kids at church camp ask if I’m on the football team.
If it weren’t for you, dad, I wouldn’t know that love exists even when I don’t see it.
I love you Papa Stav <3