When I was 12 years old, I played softball and I also was in dance class. It was around that time that both of those things started to become more time consuming and serious. My mom told me I had to choose. It’s the first time I actually remember making a decision to please my dad, and it certainly was not the last.
Although there were times when I wished I stayed in performing arts, I will never regret the time that softball allowed for me to spend with my dad and the life lessons that he taught me while I played. Softball was not just a game in our house, it was a way a life. We practiced every day. Dad even set up a bullpen in the back yard and there he would sit on his upside down laundry bucket catching for us.
About a year ago, I was given the opportunity to coach a softball clinic for 10 year old girls. I’d never seen such a rag tag group of girls. They had the nerve to sit down on the field in line for their turn to run! I quickly put an end to that, thinking I was actually being soft – Dad would have made us run laps if we had even thought about sitting down! I told my husband how Dad used to throw softballs at us to teach us how to get hit properly. Scott said it was mean but I insisted it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. The truth is you’re going to get hit by a pitch sooner or later, and you can either fall to the ground in pain or you can brush it off and take your base. I think the same is true in life.
I’ll never forget the time my dad began talking to me like an adult. I was 21, and it was just after a particularly rough time and he called for my advice. My dad wanted MY advice? And since that day I always felt like he gave me the opportunity to talk and he really listened. I felt that he valued the things I said and that he respected the choices I’d made for my life. It was an incredible feeling to think I had impressed my dad, a very hard man to impress.
When my husband asked Dad for my hand in marriage, I was so excited. Scott knew that I had to have Dad’s permission and Dad knew he could be as scary as possible. I would have given anything to watch that conversation happening. My Dad walking me down the aisle, and giving me away was one of the best times with him. He said it was one of the hardest things he’s ever done. And I still can’t believe he danced with me. I wish he knew that one of the biggest reasons I refused to run to Vegas, like he constantly suggested, was because I valued those traditions with my dad.
Some of the things I am going to miss so much without my dad here are the silly little things. Like the way he would always say “Right, Jen?” when he told a lame joke. The way he would save TV shows on his DVR and make me watch them when I came to visit – anything about weddings, good plays in a baseball game, comedy routines that I would relate to and clever country music videos. More recently he’d been really into commercials (which I never see because I watch TV via internet) and he would always say “Have you seen the commerical… ” When I was pregnant, I called my dad after every appointment to let him know how we were doing. Dad guessed Matthew was a boy from the start. Dad also guessed the day I would go into labor. Kind of creepy! I still miss calling him now after Matthew’s appointments.
I will miss my dad, and as a I write this I am thinking of a million stories to share. But the goal of this post is to celebrate what a wonderful dad I had, and how he shaped me into the wife I am and the mother I want to be. I will teach my son to play ball, and sorry honey, I will probably throw ball at him to teach him how to get hit.
And I will probably never stop saying “Elbow up, bat back, throw your hands, squish the bug”!
Love you Daddy, Happy Father’s Day!