Father’s Day. It is a day set aside to honor all the hard-working dads who provide for their children and sacrifice so their children can thrive.
So in that spirit, I’d like to introduce you to my dad. His name is Mike. He’s 67 years old and lives in Florida with my wonderful stepmother Patricia.
Growing up, my favorite moments were sitting in his lap in his recliner on Monday nights watching NFL football. Our favorite teams included the Dallas Cowboys (Yes, Gregg Parks, we were Cowboy fans), the San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins among the many teams we rooted for. We even rooted for the New Orleans Saints in the days they were called the “Ain’ts.” (I will say here I have been a die-hard Saints fan since I was introduced to football.)
He traveled a lot for his job at the time and the days he came home were the absolute best. He never came home empty-handed. He always had a hug and a small trinket for me. I still have a tumbler he brought home to me from the 1984 Worlds Fair in New Orleans. It’s a little scratched and the glass is a little foggy, but it is still precious to me.
Then one day, he moved out of our home in Monroe and my life forever changed. While my parents’ divorce was a difficult time in my young life, my mom and dad always stayed constant even when I didn’t.
At times, my teenage years were a bit tumultuous, but he always told me he loved me no matter what. He did what any good dad would do and scared the “bejesus” out of any boy I brought home and tried his best to make sure I had decent grades at school.
After my mom passed away, he did his best to raise me as I grieved.
My dad is by no means a saint, but he will always be my hero. No matter what was going on in our relationship or what was going on in our family, he made sure he was there for me during the most important events in my life, like my high school graduation and when I walked down the aisle to a new life with my husband.
He sat with me, alongside my husband, the day my youngest son was born. He held my hand as the labor pains became too much, and I was told he cried when he saw my son in the nursery for the first time.
As we grow older, our relationship has evolved into one I cherish every moment of the day. I have watched him pass on the wisdom to my children he handed down to me. I have watched him teach my boys the same tricks in the Atlantic Ocean he taught me when I was a little girl.
Today, he is a man I respect and admire. My stepmother, Patricia, has some debilitating health issues, and he has been by her side since he returned to Florida so many years ago. He has taken care of her, loved her and worshipped her since they day they reunited. You see, they were sweethearts in high school and through some of their college days. For whatever reason, they parted ways and lived their lives apart. When they got back together after 30 some odd years, it was like they’d never been apart. They spend each day as if it is their last together, and I truly admire him for that. While he cares for her every need and want, he is still my dad and grandfather to my two boys.
He is my hero, and I will always be “Daddy’s little girl.”
Michelle Bates is a reporter at the Minden Press-Herald.