He was my hero.
I just loved hanging around him.
He taught me to fish when I was 9 years old and I got so seasick I practically begged him to throw me overboard, but he said I'd get used to the swells and the rocking of the boat and he was right. We fished together for many years. My love of the ocean comes from the time spent on and in the water with my Dad. He taught me to swim too. We'd jump the waves in the Pacific ocean off Southern California and then he'd teach me how to breathe and dive under the waves that were too big to handle.
He taught me to play tennis. He was a very good tennis player and it made him crazy that I was a lefty. But he got over it and we would hit the ball for hours and hours. He taught me how to run track and how to hand-off the baton in the relay. And when I dropped the baton in a sixth grade track and field day event, he was the one who was there to pick me up and brush me off. He taught me to keep score in baseball, learn the rules of football and basketball. And when I'd pull a muscle or injure myself in any one of those sports, he'd tell me to "shake it off" and keep playing.
I know now, tucked inside all those game days, what he was really doing was teaching me about life; how to "shake-off" the hard times and the disappointments that would come as the years unfolded and I'd be on my own, without his wisdom and steady shoulder to lean on.
Today is my Dad's birthday. I just had to write this in his honor and in his memory because he's been in my minds' eye all day. That great smile and the many years I was so lucky to have him around; to listen when a daughter needed her Dad. He was there.
He was my Dad. I'm so proud of that.
Happy Birthday, Dad.