To My Father, On His Birthday

to-my-father-on-his-birthday

By Jillian Stacia

There are certain people you could write books about.

Certain people who bring out stories inside you. They fill you with words and hopes and dreams. They inspire and awe you. They fill you to the brim.

My father is one of those people. He is a person worthy of a novel.

So to try to encapsulate him in a blog post seems frivolous. I need more than 800 words to describe the man who taught me about life and the way I want to live it. You can’t sum up your father in a blog post. You can’t describe a parent in an essay. Especially mine.

But I will try, because I want to do better at telling the people I love how much they mean to me. I want them to know, really know, what they’ve taught me and how much I care. I want to write them love letters.

The older I get, the more I appreciate the gift of my father.

Not many girls can claim that their Dad is the best person they know, but I can. I have yet to meet someone with a heart as good and as pure as my father’s. His goodness radiates off him like sunbeams. It is a visceral presence. He makes people laugh. He tells stories. He is a creative. He is a safe haven. He is a special kind of person, the kind of person who makes you want to be better in the best kind of way.

I think the most important thing a parent can do is to love their kids and make them feel special. My Dad’s exceptionally good at this. He is so proud of his children- all of us. And he makes a point to tell us. All the time. He never stops. He gushes love and pride so much and so loudly that it’s almost embarrassing. Except, it’s not, really. It’s the best thing in the world.

You see, my Dad knows that love is a verb. He taught me that kindness has legs. That to love and to wish someone well is not enough. Words are not enough. You have to take action, especially when it comes to the people you love. You have to build community. You cannot love from afar. You have to get all up in the thick of it. And that can mean sacrifice and compromise and putting aside your own pride, especially when it comes to family. But that’s what you do for the people you love. That’s what kindness looks like. It’s not a smile or a nod, it’s putting someone else’s needs before your own.

Family is messy sometimes. Mine included. We are far from perfect, but we never leave the room. We never give up. We always come back to each other again and again. No matter how many times it takes. Our father taught us that. He is still teaching us, every day, by showing up and serving us. By setting the example of a life committed to love and family.

Because of him, I’ve learned about the power of humor, about the way laughter can heal and break down walls. How making fun of yourself is powerful and inviting and freeing. My Dad taught me how to build bridges. Humor is how we connect with each other. Laughter is the path. Everyone loves to feel special. Everyone loves to put their armor down. Tell jokes. Extend a hand. Build bridges.

I get my work ethic from him, too. Things like discipline and focus and being accountable. My parents taught me to honor my commitments. They showed me how to be counted on. My Dad is reliable. He does what he says he’s going to do and he gives it his all. He goes all in. He does his best. Every day without fail.

In many ways, he is the one who taught me how to be a strong woman. He showed me how to stand up for myself. How to lead with strength and kindness. How to own my voice, but to stop and listen to others. He taught me how to value life, how to dance with it and work with it and feel it pulse between my fingers.

He’s also formed my definition of what it means to be a man. A man is someone who is strong but gentle. He is supportive and trustworthy. Above all, he is kind and loving and respectful. I met my future husband when I was 16. And I knew he was the one because he’s someone who radiates goodness, too. He is someone with gentle strength. Someone who knows to show up and build bridges. Someone who works hard and loves his family.

I think in the end, we’re all just a combination of the people we’ve had the pleasure to know. We’re made up of the ones we choose to love and interact with. We’re a collage of family members, lovers, friends, teachers. We are a byproduct of our community.

I am a result of my father, my mother, my grandmother, my siblings, my husband. I am made up of my people. My people make me up. And my father is responsible for some of the best bits. He is the good part of me. He is the part that wants to be better.

Today is my Dad’s birthday, and I am so excited to spend the day with him and to have him read this essay. I don’t say it enough, so I’ll say it now: Dad, I love you, and I am so proud to be your daughter. Thanks for teaching me the good stuff.


Jillian is part of the Contributing Writer Network at Thirty on Tap. To apply to become a Contributing Writer, please click HERE.

{featured image via pexels}

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