He was the first and last guy to say to you, “Pull my finger” – and you never fell for that joke again. He was the guy who couldn’t wait to get the training wheels off your bike and give you a full-hand push down the street. When he knew it was safe, he gave you the same full-hand push into life.

He was the guy who drove you and your girlfriends to the mall, parties, ice rink, and band practices while he waited in the car for you to finish. He was the guy who stayed up to all hours in the morning until he knew you were safe at home. You never felt scared to walk down a street with him, because he was your superhero and always guarded you. When a storm came in and the lights went out, he was the first person you would ask, “Are we going to be okay?” He was the first one to put you behind the wheel of his car to give you driving lessons.

Sometimes you thought you knew more about life than he did. When you reached 30, you discovered he was the wisest person on the planet. You found out about him in small, quick conversations that were held in the front seat of his car or as he was working in the backyard. Some conversations were best left alone: his time in the war, the loss of his closest boyhood friend, or his parents. If it brought a tear to his eye, you never brought it up again. He was your rock and when he was there, no one got to you. He was there in good times and bad times. He was the most dependable person in your life. He always had your back no matter what was going on in your life.

If you were a girl, he had a soft side for you right next to his heart. If something did not go your way, he would put his arms around your shoulders, kiss you on the head, and tell you everything was going to be all right.

If you were a boy, he had a soft side for you that he did not show, but you knew it was there. If he was rough on you, it was because he was teaching you a lesson in life that he had learned the hard way. He did not give out hugs, kisses, or apologies, but he would stand next to you and give a nudge with his body to show he was still in your court. If you were wrong, he would defend you in front of strangers – but give you hell when you were alone. You didn’t have to buy him gifts, tell him you loved him, or throw parties for him. You just had to be there with him.

We call him by many names, but the one that shows him our love and respect is Dad. This Father’s Day, make sure you remember your dad, call him, visit him, or put flowers on his grave. Happy Father’s Day to all grandfathers, fathers, and soon-to-be fathers!

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