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Happy Father’s Day!

“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.” -Jim Valvano

There is something about the selflessness that you demonstrate daily. Or maybe it’s the love you have for our child. Perhaps it’s the fact that you slept on a bite-size couch for 2 nights without a single complaint, or was it the squeaky cot? It has to be the way you would wake me up and motivate me to get out of bed to go see our son in the NICU, even when we were both running on fumes. It says a lot about the person you are and the kind of father you are.

You are Mark’s best friend and greatest supporter. You are his fiercest protector and his soccer buddy. I can probably speak a million times over on all of the great qualities Mark has. I can speak about his kindness and his thoughtfulness. I can talk about his manners and his love for his mother. I think I should probably mention how fast he learns or how he never gives up until he gets it JUST right. He is strong and stubborn and hates being told what to do. He loves to headbang to rock music in the car and cannot get enough of the boat. What I should also mention is that all of these qualities, these traits that I just mentioned are all things he’s learned from you. He got these from you. The best parts and pieces of our son came from you.

I know that all of the complications we experienced during our pregnancy and the entire NICU experience with Mark took a great toll on me. I also know that even though you suffered just the same, you were my rock through it all. Even when he came home, you would wake up with me while I fed him and you’d do the dishes. You took time away from work to be home those first few days. You made a choice to stay by my side in the hospital, through it all. You were running on fumes just as I was and whereas my career could bend, yours had the potential to break. You sacrificed so much to give us the life we have- to provide. You are an amazing father to our son and I am grateful you are his dad. I look forward to watching Mark grow up and create new memories with you.

They say a little girl’s first love, her first hero is her daddy. I think for me that was very true. Father’s day has always been a difficult one for me. Because of my father’s profession, there was no telling if my brother and I would get to see him or spend much time with him on this special day. Still, we made gifts and bought presents and gave them to him as soon as we could. You’re probably thinking that my dad is in the military, stationed overseas, or a super-secret spy who is never around. Well, the military and overseas part of that was true, once upon a time (before I was ever a thought), but one thing is certain, he was always around for my brother and me.

Without getting into too much of a political/controversial/pick a side discussion, it is important to mention that my father was a Law Enforcement Officer. He was one of the good ones and after 30 years of service to our community, he retired. Being the child of a LEO is a terrifying thing. You hear the news reports come out one after another- of injuries, shootings, and deaths. You wake up every day to give them a hug and kiss goodbye, knowing it could be their last. You just want to hug a little longer, squeeze a little tighter and just not let go.

My dad is many great things. He is kind. He is thoughtful. He has a very dry sense of humor. He is selfless, honorable, and plays Devil’s Advocate really really well. He gives people the benefit of the doubt and always manages to forgive even the most unforgivable things. My dad is a patient listener and a gentle speaker. He sacrificed so much so that we could live the incredible life that we did. I am the person I am today because of the man he is. I am forever grateful for all of the silly moments we have, and the laughter shared between us. I love looking through old photos and seeing a few from our summer vacations in Ohio. It’s comforting to know that just this year, my son and I traveled back up to Ohio with my dad and step-mom. Seeing my dad and my son play in the snow together is a memory I will cherish forever, just like watching my dad and my brother catch lightning bugs on a warm summer night there too. I look forward to creating so many more memories with my dad, and Mark.

I don’t think there are many people who can say they were welcomed into a family with open arms, no complaints, and just an immense amount of love and respect. I was so incredibly fortunate to experience that with this man, my father-in-law. He would give you the shirt off his back to a stranger if they needed it. If I called and said I was stranded on the side of the road, he’d show up in an instant. When work needs to get done around the house or I need my car looked at, he’s there with tools in hand. He is one of the most hardworking, selfless, and honest men I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

He is a family man and raised two incredibly strong willed boys of his own. Those boys turned out to be the best dads you could ask for. He loves unconditionally and does all that he can to make sure his kids and grandkids are taken care of no matter the time of day or night. He is patient and sincere. He is silly and we love to laugh with one another. I am grateful to have always had his love and his support within the family.

I am glad Mark gets to call him PopPop. I love that he runs up to him and jumps in his arms, all while screaming “POPPOP!!” Knowing he raised Travis to be the man he is today gives me a sense of peace knowing he will help raise my son to become a great man someday too. I love watching Mark learn from him. It makes me happy to know that he holds such a huge place in Mark’s heart, and in mine as well.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!