When I was five years old, I marched into the living room in my Disney princess dress-up gown, holding flowers I picked from outside and told (yes, told, not asked) my dad he was going to marry me. Always one to play along, he agreed and my mom served as the preacher as we said our vows. 26 years later, I’m still hoping to meet someone who has even half the heart of my incredible father.
He’s gone from my prince charming and hero to my drinking buddy and unofficial financial advisor, but through it all, he’s always held a piece of my heart. That’s why he’s the most important man in my life, and will continue to be, until someone quite remarkable comes along.
Here are 14 reasons he’s the best:
1. He teaches you to be brave (because if you fall, he’s there to catch you).
My dad taught me to drive a car, ride a bike, steer a jet ski, and swing from the very-dangerous rope swing into the lake (Sorry, Mom!). Whenever I was afraid to take a risk - even if it was just diving into the deep end - he’d remind me: “You’re a Tigar, you can do anything!” I still say it to myself now when I’m scared.
2. He shows you what real love is by the way he treats your mom.
When boys have broken my heart over the years, my dad will remind me that when it’s right, there won’t be as much trouble. When my dad met my mother, there was no doubt in his mind. And though hard work came later in their marriage (as it does in every relationship), he fell in love with her instantly and hasn’t stopped loving her since. My dad is a shining example of how a man should treat a woman.
3. He always makes you smile, especially when you’re cranky.
My dad has always been the life of the party and though his jokes aren’t always funny (or, um, appropriate), he always gets me to crack a grin. His favorite line these days? When I call home he’ll say, “Jim’s pizza? How many pepperoni pies do you want?” (To which I almost always smile and say, “Daaaaadddd.”)
4. He sends adorable text messages right when you need them.
Since my dad discovered a smartphone, he hasn’t stopped texting me. Sometimes it’s about the weather or how I should do my taxes, but on nights when I feel down and text my pops that I miss him, he’ll say something like this: “Love you, my beautiful daughter. One of the best days of my life is when you were born. Just keeps getting better.” Always cheers me up.
5. He teaches you how to change a tire and change the oil in your car but will gladly do both of those things for you, if you ask.
Or when you’re sick, he’ll offer to overnight you his famous chicken noodle soup and you’ll gladly accept.
6. He magically knows all of the important finance questions right off the top of his head.
Whenever I need to know about how much I should be putting in my 401K or when (and where) to invest, my dad not only has all of the answers, but will email them to me in bullet point form with clear instructions. He may be a fireman by trade but he bought our lakehouse by knowing his way around the stock market.
7. He’s even more excited about that first legal beer than you are.
Right after I turned 21, my dad and I went downtown to this bar that he always wanted to take me to and had two Yuenglings. Sure, there was a game on and yeah, my mom could’ve come but we wanted our first official drinking outing to be just the two of us. It’s something I’ll never forget.
8. He reminds you that he’ll know when it’s the right guy probably before you do.
Apparently (according to my dad), he’ll have that same look in his eyes that he had when he saw my mom. So far, my dad’s been pretty unimpressed with my taste in men, so I’ll get back to you on that.
9. He says yes … especially when mom doesn’t.
I won’t confirm that my dad and I are planning a skydiving trip but I also won’t deny it. My mother’s only request is just that we don’t tell her when it’s happening. Deal!
10. He encourages you to be independent because he knows you’ve got this.
There’s this great home video from when I was three and my dad is lifting me up on one hand and I’m standing on one foot and jumping into a bean bag. My mom’s impatiently asking my dad to stop because I’m little but I’m excitedly running for more jumps. And when I look at him scared he says, “You can do it Linds!” Now, he tells me time and time again how proud he is that I’ve wholeheartedly chased my dreams as an adult. Those words mean so much coming from him.
11. He’s the most badass man you’ve ever looked up to, but he’ll still let you paint his fingernails when you’re 8.
Sorry to out you dad, but it’s true. You fought fires for 25 years, you’ve hiked mountains and built houses … but your fingernails have also been pink at least once. I have photo proof!
12. He’s the first guy you ever dance with…
…and the one you look forward to dancing with on your wedding day. I know it’ll be wonderful to have that first dance with my husband bt I know I’ll have countless more with my future husband. The one that I’m most looking forward to on that day is with my dad, even if we both sob like babies.
13. His piggyback rides never end; they just change.
I’m definitely too big for my dad to give me a piggyback ride, but we still go on adventures - in New York when he visits, on our boat when I go home to North Carolina or even on a helicopter ride as a Christmas present.
14. He will totally watch a marathon of Law & Order SVU with you when you’re sick.
Thank you dad for creating my Law & Order addiction. It truly is soothing when I’m home with a cold.
15. He’ll never let you forget how loved you are.
I may be single, I may be scared of ever finding love, but I know one thing’s for certain: I’m so powerfully loved by the best man I’ve ever known.