An open letter to my dad—and yours

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Dad,

Today marks the 20th Father’s Day I have spent with you. For 20 years, you have shaped my life in more ways than I can imagine and have taught me to be a better person every step of the way. But this isn’t just about our relationship. It’s about the relationship between fathers and daughters everywhere. After all, fathers are the first men to truly—unconditionally— love us. And for that, we thank you. So, to all of the dads out there, this one’s for you.

You Taught Me: Growing up, you taught me all of my firsts. You taught me how to swim, how to ride a bike and even how to shuffle a deck of cards in the most impressive ways.  I knew the words to “Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones before I knew the alphabet. The few minutes we’d spend together before you dropped me off at preschool every morning have become some of my fondest memories—which is probably why I desperately clung to your tie every time you tried to say goodbye. I spent the majority of my life looking at the world from your shoulders, and that view was pretty remarkable.

You Supported Me: Throughout my years in grade school, one phrase became engrained in my memory: “Be the best student you can be.” Every morning, before I walked out the door, you would mutter those seven, short words to me. If you were on a business trip, you would make sure to call me, no matter what time it was where you were, just so I could hear those magic words. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that phrase would eventually stick with me forever. Whenever I’m having a bad day up at school or I’m thinking about everything I need to get done, I am left with a constant reminder about how I need to be the best student I can be for you, Dad, my number one fan. I can always count on the entire family to receive a mass email with my latest news story or accomplishment, and although I’m often embarrassed by the recognition, I know it is just because you’re proud. Thank you for being my biggest supporter without fail.

You Shaped Me: Fast-forward a few years, and all I can say is that I’m thankful you have an athletic son. Although I may not have been the most athletically inclined child, I was surely interested in watching, learning and understanding every sport imaginable. Tailgating at Dolphins games with you, memorizing the entire Miami Heat roster and sitting on the couch watching as you flipped the channels between the five different games you’d have on that day made me realize the passion I have for sports. I have you to thank for that. The bond we share in talking about our favorite games and players, even while I’m up at school, is unmistakable. You even betrayed your beloved Miami Hurricanes to become a Florida Gator fan just for me. Now that’s what I call love.

You Helped Me: I’ll admit, now that I’m in college, one of the things I miss most is having you there whenever I’m in a crisis. And by crisis, I mean when there’s a bug in my apartment or something needs to be fixed. I am so thankful to have a dad who has always been a superhero in my eyes. You’ve successfully evacuated upwards of 100 lizards out of our house in all of the years we’ve lived there, you’ve practically hung from our roof while putting up dozens of Christmas lights and you’ve always been our go-to handyman for any and every issue in the house. College isn’t the same without me screaming “Daaaad!” every time there is an insect nearby or if my toilet is overflowing. Luckily, however, you’re always a phone call away telling me exactly what to do to solve my issues.

I could go on and on about the ways you have made me better for having known you. But for now, I’ll just say thank you. Thank you for believing in me, for trusting me, for teaching me and for helping me. Happy Father’s Day to the best dad, hands down, and to all of the other dads who have shaped the lives of their children for the better.

Love always,

Megan