My dad used to always look at the freckles on my face and say, "Can I grab a pen and connect the dots?" You might think this is cruel but it didn't hurt my feelings. I would of course give him the whiney "Daaaaad, noooooo" response and inevitably we'd both end up in laughter.
Dad knew I had a ticklish spot right on my knee so almost every time I was in the front seat (and let's be honest, I was the oldest so I got that right most of the time), he'd get his "claw" ready to attack that ticklish knee without warning and I'd squeal like a girl and try to squirm out of my seatbelt to get away. He knew he had me.
We were the family who played together. Before you mistakenly think that any one of us have an athletic gene in our bodies, let me quickly correct you. We don't. Not at all. In fact, we may be the clumsiest most unathletic family you've ever met. But play together we certainly did. Dad met mom when he was a piano player and she was a singer. So our family "bondage" time (as I so affectionately called it in my teenage years) was spent gathered in the living room when dad would put on a southern gospel record (for those of you born after 1990, it's a big black vinyl circle that played music and no, you couldn't download it to anything). We'd turn it up as loud as the speakers would go. Dad would sit at the piano with me on one side and my sister on the other. We didn't really know how to play, but dad did. We'd just bang keys along with him and sing our hearts out. Mom joined in offering harmony to the voices and thus my singing career began in the humble beginnings of that family living room.
To this day, you can hear my dad call me his "number one son," to which others remark, "Oh no, did he want a boy?" No, actually, he didn't. I'm not sure he would have known what to do with a son. Certainly not play ball! But it is his term of endearment for me and I love that it is. For years I've worked alongside or with my mom but now I enjoy the fact that I walk into work on a particularly upbeat day and am called "Little Bill." That's a compliment to me because I love that my dad has always been such a hard worker and carries such a positive perspective about almost everything. Watching this work ethic has shaped my own and I contribute much of the success I've experienced to the example I've witnessed before my very eyes.
My dad and sister may still harbor bitter feelings about all the pageants they had to sit through, watching contestants butcher songs, yet endlessly supporting me every. single. time. My dad would laughingly tell you I was "first loser" but that first runner up title, 6 times in a row, won me a lot of scholarship for which we all were grateful. Make no mistake. I'm glad he was there. In fact, I'd rather him have the opportunity to laugh and joke about all the painful contestants they had to endure than to not have any memory of it at all. He was there and that's what mattered.
That has always been the case. I've never doubted having encouragement and support. I've always felt loved and believed in. The empowerment this has given me has truly helped shape who I am and what I've done. It's gotten me through some of the toughest times of my life. Even when I've failed, I always knew there were open arms to come home to.
I am blessed to have godly, God-fearing parents. They've offered me more love and support than I could ever have imagined, even as an adult. In fact, it seems I needed them even more as their grown child and the relationships we share have only blossomed into friendships as we've all gotten older. Blessed doesn't even sum it up adequately.
Happy Father's Day, dad. I love you.