Some of my earliest memories are flashes of fun and love. Like, waiting for you to get home from work so you could take us swimming and flipping us in the air. Sneaking into your room at night or early morning and feeling a sleeping face to make sure a moustache pricked my fingers. Then I could be sure I would get lifted into bed to snuggle. Running around in loops and circles in the sand at the beach to follow the maze you made with sticks or your toe (over and over again). I remember skipping into your room early on Saturday mornings and hearing, “Hey Skippy, you ready for your soccer game today! Are you going to score a goal?!” I remember detesting being called Skippy, but somehow now it is endearing. Who could forget the promise of Barbie dolls for the coveted goals and the week it didn’t happen. :) Do you remember trying to teach me how to do Ariels-cartwheels with no hands? You even took me to parks that had a slope so I could get some leverage. Those actually used to kind of scare me after landing on my head a few times, but I knew I could do it and so did you.
As I got older many of my stand out memories with you revolve around some kind of sport. I loved how you would take me to the empty fields by our house to practice my goal kicks. Why were they so bad? Luckily, under your tutelage, they improved and actually made some air. I later became “famous” for my goal, corner and free kicks. (Especially for the one that broke the girl’s arm.) I have fond memories from a young age through high school of intense strategic talks about what either needed to or did take place on the field. We carefully scrutinized each player, their abilities and our teamwork. You have no idea how important it made me feel that you took so much interest in my talent, though now I realize I wasn’t all that amazing, but you sure never let me think it. I probably could have done without the yelling of, “Go Dano!” from the stands, but I’ll let it slide.
***From later in the letter:
After marrying and moving…and moving again I finally was able to get back into college. I had always known I would graduate, it was never a question, but I always thought it was basically only important to me. After the tough road of being denied transfer credits, many frustrating meetings with counselors, extra required classes, expensive books, a change of major and a million other things, I finally graduated. The fact that you and mom were so set on coming out for my graduation actually surprised me. It didn’t hit me until talking to you a couple years after I started teaching that you were more proud of me than I was of myself. I think you would have been proud if I had graduated in 4 years and taught right away, but I now realize you are more proud of me for reaching my dreams because I succeeded despite all the road blocks. I used to be embarrassed of how long it took me to actually start teaching, but you helped me see that in fact, I had accomplished something far more than just receiving a degree and a certificate. I endured. When you told me that watching me teach was one of the proudest days of your life, I became more proud of myself. If I HAD to pick one thing you have done for me that has influenced me most, that experience would be it.
I love you Dad!