Oh Father, my Father.

My dad is quite a man. He has a frightening sense of humor that leaves you questioning - is he serious? Is he joking?? He has an unquenchable hankering for the finer things in life - good scotch, good coffee, good music, having a really good time. And yet he can roll up his sleeves and get elbows-deep in the muck of fixing just about anything - he's never met an appliance he couldn't tinker with and ultimately diagnose the problem to. He's quite the juxtaposition, my father.

And yes, he can be intimidating. His tough exterior consists of leather motorcycle boots and a resting "Don't mess with me" Yankee facial expression, yet he goofs off with the best of them, making up the silliest voices that leaves my toddler giggling in stitches. Growing up he would watch Doris Day musicals with us girls on Friday nights, he would put our underwear on his head to make us laugh, and he would play us songs on his guitar that made me fall in love with music.

These days he's getting a gorgeous salt-and-pepper look to him, his dark eyes still sparkly when he's got a story (or conspiracy) to tell of. He wells up with tears whenever he sees a horse in a field (something that is endlessly funny to me), because it brings back memories of his days working on his uncle's farm. He's curious, pouring hours into looking up every root word of the Bible, seeking answers to life's most confounding questions. He's a warrior, an out-of-the-box thinker, a troublemaker with a mouthful to say, a passionate teach and musician and a romantic with my mom.

Lacquered with layers of tough love and teddy bear love, he has been the most perfect dad to me and my two sisters. Not perfect in that he never made mistakes - he's always the first one to apologize, a quality I really respect about him - but he's perfect because he's tried his hardest to give us everything we could ever need or want. He didn't have involved parents while growing up, so his parenting skills have been learned along the way of raising us. Guided by only his instincts, and punctuated with lessons learned while on the job. I'm constantly amazed by him - his intense work ethic, his perceptive listening ear, his diligent commitment to discipline - these are all things that he had to learn the hard way while raising us girls. He didn't have parents to call on when he didn't know how to do something. He simply had to figure it out for himself.

As a parent myself these days, I'm humbled as I realize more and more how incredibly generous my dad has been with his life and his love. Even though I'm an adult, I still lean heavily on my parents for their wisdom and insights, especially as I raise my two little boys. I am so comforted by my dad's words of encouragement, his gentle corrections (okay, sometimes they're not so gentle, but they're usually necessary when I'm being a knucklehead), and his silly sense of humor that I am so endeared to. Sometimes I wonder how other people get along in life without laughing at themselves a little, a wonderful quality I so appreciate because I got it from him.

He's my dad, and I am so proud to be his daughter.

Thank you Dad, for being so wise and funny and generous and available to me whenever I need you. In an age when fatherhood is fading, I am keenly aware of your investment in my life and I wouldn't be the woman I am without you. You are the bravest, most wondrous soul, and I love you endlessly.