“You are your father’s daughter.”

I’ve heard that phrase more times than I can count.  I never tire of it.  As a child, I would nearly burst from pride when someone would notice my dimple, or my brown eyes, or the way I walk, and say “You are your father’s daughter.”  I would look at his face when he smiled his gentle smile at me and then touch the dimple in my own cheek, to make sure it was still there—so proud to bear a physical resemblance to a man I loved so dearly.  Over time, I’ve even come to terms with having my father’s horrific feet.  Recently, as I tried to ease his compression socks onto his legs without hurting him, he said “You know, these feet are your destiny” with a wide smile, and we would laugh conspiratorially at our shared misfortune.

There is a gaping hole in my heart right now that feels impossibly deep, but the love of our friends and family, and especially our Savior, is carrying us through.  I profess to be a writer, but the words to convey the lovely person my father was escape me. I couldn’t do it justice with all the words and all the time in the world.  I loved him so, and he loved me. So much of who I am is because of who he was.

While my thumb is a much paler shade of green than his, I’ve grown to love watching seeds that I planted sprout up from the earth.  Never mind that they have about a 50% chance of survival–at most. The last several visits we had together, he would say “now tell me again what you’ve planted and where you’ve planted it” while I took him on a virtual tour of my yard and garden and he assured me I’d done everything right—whether I really did or not.

I love gardening because of him.

Some of my earliest memories (before they raised those pesky height requirements!) are of him tightly buckling me in beside him in a rollercoaster car, putting his arm around me and giving me that raised-eyebrow grin of his, as we took off up the steep grade, only to plummet back down again, me giggling, and him clutching his Ohio State hat in one hand and my tiny arm in the other.

I love rollercoasters because of him.

I love the smell of a campfire, and the way a hot dog tastes when it’s straight from the roasting stick, charred from the open flames. And there is nothing sweeter than a marshmallow, roasted on a fire that my Daddy built with his trusty National Guard shovel and a few rolled up Bryan Times newspapers.

I love campfires because of him.

He loved being our dad.  Both of my parents valued experience over possessions and I thank God that they did.  We traveled, went camping, ziplined, tubed down rivers, took road trips and climbed sand dunes.  We were professional adventurers. Even when we weren’t exactly looking for adventure, it somehow found us. 🙂

I love adventure because of him.

More than anything, my father taught me what it means to be a Christian.  When I imagine what Jesus must be like, I imagine him to have many of the same characteristics of my Dad.  A soft-spoken strength, and a love for his children that feels safe and strong.  In the middle of the hypocrisy and cruelty of this world, my parents showed us what genuine faith looks like.  The last time I saw Dad, we were talking about my husband and I said “He reminds me a lot of you, Dad.”  He smiled and said “You sure got a good one and so did he.”  He called me his “sweet daughter” when I left, and my heart caught in my throat.  I mentally held onto those two words, desperate to remember that moment, knowing my moments with him were growing few. In the three days since he left this earth, Jesus has whispered that comfort to me over and over. I am his “sweet daughter” and my beloved Daddy is with him this very minute. I don’t know how any of us could do this without that knowledge, and if one person’s faith is made stronger by the legacy my Dad is leaving, I can’t think of anything that would make him happier.  I’m so thankful for an earthly father who quietly demonstrated the love of Jesus.

I am my father’s daughter, and I am my Father’s daughter because of him.

Thank you, Dad.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. II Tim. 4:7