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This post may not be the most joyful one I create, but it’s a heartfelt one. I just wanted to give you a heads up on that.

I am a total “daddy’s girl”.

daddysgirlBut it wasn’t always so. My daddy came into my life when I was 12. I did not welcome him in any way. I had learned by that age that men? They leave. They hurt my mom. They hurt me. They aren’t constant. They aren’t reliable. They don’t really care about my mom, let alone me. And because of this, there was no point in becoming attached. Because he’d just do it too.

But he didn’t.

And yet, I was terrified of caring, of letting myself care. Because it was just a matter of time, in my eyes.

And he stayed. Despite the total hell I put him through. He stayed.

I finally saw just how much he cared when I was a Senior in High School. For various reasons I had dropped out of school my Junior year. I decided to go back my Senior year. I not only did my regular classes, but correspondence ones, so I could graduate on time. I was doing wonderfully. I worked my ass off. The day that we were to practice walking the line, I received a phone call which he took over at one point. It was to inform me that my gourmet cooking teacher was refusing to round-up my final grade by .2%, and so I was missing 1 extracurricular credit, and I would not be graduating with my class. He hugged me, lit up a cigarette (he had quit smoking weeks before), sat down, and cried with me.

That was the first time I’d ever seen him cry.

When he came into my life, he was this hard-ass, retired military, Vietnam vet, that couldn’t stand kids.

daddyHe didn’t take excuses. He didn’t care for my flippant attitude, or my hormonal hissy fits. He expected me to behave a certain way. And we both agreed once that I was the toughest challenge he’d ever faced. Both of us are stubborn as hell.

Those tears he cried with me, that he allowed me to see? That was the water that broke the rock of stubbornness between us.

Not that we saw eye to eye on anything any time soon after that. But I wasn’t intentionally throwing obstacles in his path anymore, and he relaxed his stance about how lazy he thought teenagers (ie: me) were once he saw how much effort I was actually willing to put forth to accomplish a goal.

What finally bound us to each other was the birth of my oldest son. We started bonding during the pregnancy, but there were still hitches and uncomfortable moments there. But once that little boy came screaming into the world? Oh yeah. I was his daughter, he was my dad, and that little ball of fury? That was his grandson.

My oldest sons bio-dad had taken off when I was a couple of months pregnant. So I was going into parenthood as a single mom. It was terrifying. My parents helped me so much, and still do. But when the oldest was born, my daddy was there for us. He took over midnight feedings, he was happy to hold him at any given moment. There were several nights when I’d find that he had nabbed my son from the crib, because he made “fussy” noises. In reality, he just wanted to hold the little guy.

My dad proved all the other men I had known wrong.

He stayed.

He cared.

He loved.

Dad and my oldest, years ago

Dad and my oldest, years ago

He has been the only male that has been a constant in my oldest sons life. In my life.

He is “Papa” to the boys. Daddy to me.

He loves his grandsons so very much. He’s been there for them for stories, owies, hugs, kisses, laughter, a stern word… all of it. He is their hero. He is my hero.

Daddy and my youngest

Daddy and my youngest

Dad and the littles

Dad and the littles

Laughter and Love

Laughter and Love

And now. Now my daddy is dying. He’s coming home for hospice. He’s barely hanging on.

My hero is leaving. Our hero is leaving.

It hurts. So much.

I don’t want to let him go. I want to hold him tight. I want to keep him here. I want to hold him close forever.

But I don’t want him to hurt anymore. I don’t want to see him wither away. I don’t want to see how hard it is for him to continue holding on. I want him to be at peace. To not feel so much pain with every breath.

And I want him to know how very much he is loved. How very much he will be missed. And that he will Never be forgotten.

Daddy, I love you. I love your laugh. I love that devilish gleam you get in your eye when you smile. I love that whenever we are in the car going somewhere, you hold my hand oh so tightly. I love the way you look at my little boys, and I can see just how much you love them in that quiet smile. I love the way you make eggs. I love that you make my mom and I laugh. I love your sarcasm. I love how your hugs feel like a wall of protection. I love the way you love my mom. I’m thankful that you chose to be my dad. I’m thankful that you stayed when all others left. I’m thankful that you love me. I’m thankful that you have seen me at my worst, and you didn’t walk away. I love that I made you proud. I’m thankful for the sacrifices you made for me, for my mom, for my boys, for our country. I am proud of you. For holding on this long. For everything you’ve accomplished. I love you Daddy. So much.

The World's Greatest Dad

The World’s Greatest Dad

The world just isn’t going to be the same without you in it. For any of us.