When my dad was finishing up his residency in New Jersey, he would come home from the hospital to our little basement apartment, completely exhausted. First thing he always did was take off his work shoes, slip on his black leather slippers and sprawl on the couch for a minute. I must’ve been a pretty attentive 2-year-old—with impressive upper-body strength, may I add—because soon after learning how to walk, I picked up on his little routine. When I heard him coming through the door, I would run to his room, grab his slippers that were half my size and lug them over to the sofa like the Superbaby I was. Then with all my might, I yanked his work shoes off his feet and replaced them with his slippers. After my deed was done, I’d climb up onto the sofa, lay on his belly and we’d both snooze away.
As the oldest daughter, I’ve always been a daddy’s girl. My dad and I have just always gotten each other in this unspoken kind of way. He’s a man of few words, but his actions always speak louder.
The older I get, the more I realize I am my father’s daughter. I mean, that’s a given considering 50% of my genetic makeup is from him, but the similarities in our habits and temperaments are uncanny.
I quickly grow impatient in long lines and crowds.
I tend to over pack (because you can never have too many options).
I’m a night owl— feeling wide-awake at 2 am is a constant battle I face.
I have an unshakeable sweet tooth.
I love a cold draft beer just as much as I love a nice, smooth cabernet.
I have an introspective nature.
I am known to fall asleep in movies.
I am a total sucker for dogs.
And I inherited all of the above from my father.
Some traits, I learned from him through observation. Like when I was 3, I would sit on my dad’s lap while he was at his desk studying for his board exams. He would run his finger along each line he read and since daughter-see, daughter-do, I would run my little finger down the pages as I “read” along with him.
Other traits, I learned from him through example. As a doctor, he taught me the importance of work ethic, dedication and taking pride in the work you do. Having Doctor Dad is awesome, but the one downside is seeing him barely get any downtime.
I’ve seen him throw on scrubs to head to the hospital at 3 am when called.
I’ve seen him be so busy that he forgets to eat lunch.
I’ve seen him come home from work grieving over a patient’s condition.
I’ve seen him answer family and friend’s questions about their blood pressure, stress tests and anything else you can imagine, at dinner, family reunions or anywhere for that matter.
I’ve seen him make the point to never miss one of my brother’s baseball games.
I’ve seen him get off work, drive to Tallahassee and drive all the way back to Orlando in one night—just so he could take me to dinner to celebrate me passing my thesis defense.
It can’t be easy to manage all of this—but he does it. He does it for us.
And he does it for others too. There are those people that fidget over the bill at restaurants or fuss over how to split a cab fare— and then there’s my dad, the type to frequently host parties for his friends and family and the type to be practically insulted if someone proposes that the party be a BYOB or potluck. He’s the type that is generous—even when he doesn’t have to be or can’t afford to be— and expects nothing in return.
I’ll admit, I used to see this as a bit of a flaw— worrying that maybe he was too trusting to recognize the ulterior motives or hidden personal agendas of others involved. That maybe it was potentially unhealthy to always give and not receive. But I’ve come to learn that one of the most inspiring things about my dad is that he is completely selfless—he is capable of loving and giving without reciprocity.
With my dad, there is never a shortage of hugs or those awkward kisses on the top of my head. He wasn’t afraid to shed some tears with me as I left for college and he wasn’t afraid to hold me as I sobbed over my first heartbreak. He’s never been afraid to show his affection, to tell me that he’s proud of me or to demonstrate how much he loves me.
My dad has no idea what it’s meant to have him on my team.
He’s pushed me when I felt lost, frustrated or close to giving up.
Like that one time when I was 8 and I vowed to never touch a baseball again after a pop fly landed on my face and gave me a massive nosebleed. My dad quickly talked me out of my baseball boycott by assuring me that it’s okay to mess up, everyone does— the test is in how you come back from it. By the next day, I was back to playing catch in the backyard with my dad and brother— questionable hand-eye coordination and all.
Or even now— I’m going back to school for the third time and my dad’s been nothing but supportive.
He has always encouraged me to pursue my interests, while also instilling in me a sense of responsibility to finish what I start. He supports all my dreams, not just my college major. He gives me the world, while also allowing me to choose a life I love.
But it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. I’ll be the first to say, I’m not the easiest to deal with—I can make mistakes and say things I don’t mean. Our shared stubbornness has stirred up a hearty amount of father-daughter conflict. My dad deserves medals for loving me even when I push back—and God knows I push back. Luckily, I was raised by a kind man and while he may get upset, he always forgives and continues to love.
Whether he was taking the family to places we’ve never been, shamelessly watching The Bachelor with me every Monday night or buying me a baseball mitt and teaching me how to play catch— I value my dad and these moments with him.
To all the other dads, father figures and heroes out there—who are setting the standard for their daughters and sons—know that your children will grow to truly appreciate your character and your heart. Know that you are celebrated.
My dad has a saying he always says when he’s either relaxed, surrounded by loved ones, in vacation mode or just sipping a nice glass of vino—que vida mas sana. It’s Spanish for “what a healthy life,” but it’s basically a way of saying “this is the life.” He got the phrase from my grandfather, but my dad’s made it our family motto.
This is one of my favorite stories about my dad.
Every time he says it, it’s a reminder that there is always something to be grateful for— and I am so grateful to have him as my dad. Happy Father’s Day to the best guy I know.