Dear Daddy,

This Father’s Day, you’re on my mind in a special way. I’m not sure why this year seems special, but I’m planning to pray for you in a special way today. Maybe you need that.

I thought I’d write to tell you I love you. As I see my husband as a father, I can’t help but reflect on my own experience as your daughter.

Things haven’t been perfect, have they? Sometimes, I want to reassure you (though I feel like I never can) that it’s OK. Things are never perfect. Come on! You know that! Aren’t you the one who taught me that? Aren’t you the one who pointed to my successes when I was limping about my failures, the one who cheered in the silence of my defeat because I had tried, the one who continues to brag about accomplishments I’ve long forgotten?

There’s a memory of us that I cherish. It’s in a special box in my brain, and every so often I take it out to check on it, see if it’s gotten faded with the years. So far, it’s crystal clear to me.

It was a hot summer day, probably July, and you were in that old red International truck that we had at the camp, pulling out. I think there must have been some discussion in the house about whether I was going to go with you or not, and I had decided firmly that no, I was not. But what I remember so clearly is running down the driveway, my sandals slapping the pavement, chasing you down and hollering like mad for you to stop! Because I needed to go along! And you did. You leaned over and opened the door of that old truck and I clambered up into my perch beside you. I remember the smell of that truck and the feel of its vinyl seats. Wasn’t it a 1970s model? It rumbled and it was a stick shift and the radio didn’t even have a tape deck (wait, was there a radio?). Our A/C was 2-60, remember? And I probably had a baseball cap on – maybe that yellow Napa one with the netting in the back, the one that I used to tuck my hair up into and that made people ask if your son was with you (though the people at Napa knew better; I must have worn their cushioned revolving stools out in all those tag-a-longs to their fine store).

There are a lot of other memories of us. Because, you know, I’ve always been a daddy’s girl. Right from the get-go. And it appears that it’s a genetic trait I’ve passed along. Funny how, as a mother, I smile, with tears in my eyes, to see the wonder of what it means to raise a daddy’s girl. Funny how, as I see them in their little world, I think of us in our little world, all those years ago. It was a beautiful place, wasn’t it Daddy? It was full of fairy princesses and tree houses and terrific tales and long hikes and projects together.

We’ve been on quite an adventure in our time together, Daddy. There have been a few marriages, and there have been additions to the family. I’ve gone away to college, gotten married, and started my own family. Somehow, it’s not so easy to talk on the phone (we never were phone talkers, were we?) and the distance seems warped by…what is that? But, Daddy, I’m still here, your little girl. My hair may not be so bleached from time in the pool and my body may be bloated a bit with this newest addition. I may have a few different educational experiences and I may have trundled along on a different spiritual path. Talking on the phone might not be our strong suit, and we might not see as much of each other as we should or as we want to.

But Father’s Day isn’t about all that. It’s about a salute to you and that special place between us. It’s a time for me to smile, while the tears cascade down my cheeks, to think about how the word “father” is defined in my dictionary, with your smiling face and that tight, safe hug.

Thanks, Daddy.