Sunday the weather was just delightful and I had family and friends over to celebrate my Dad's 80th birthday. Wow! It doesn't even sound right to say he is 80 years old. He just doesn't seem that age to me. He is still the same Dad I've know since he came into my life when I was 8 years old. It was at a time when I was still suffering a broken heart and serious trauma from seeing a drunk driver hit and kill my biological Dad as he crossed the street.
Back then, a loss so significant and so traumatic in a child's life was handled only with time and patience. There was no money for psychologists or therapy. They just hoped time would heal and I would grow out of the problems with reading and learning at school. They thought time would make me stop clinging to my Mother and never wanting to leave her side. Time would heal the horrific nightmares every night, my refusing to eat, crying everyday and night and asking when he was coming home. My Mother was left with nothing and had to go to work to save our home and feed her two kids. That left more feelings of abandonment and fear.
But 18 months later, God chose the very man who would come into our lives and make us all who we are today. I like to say that my Dad was hand picked by God to come into my Mother's life. She had lived such a hard life and God wanted her to live out the rest of her life with someone who truly loved her with all his heart and would always take care of her. He was younger than her and at only 25 years old, he had no plans of becoming an instant father to two kids who were both a psychologically challenged by the events that had taken place less than two years earlier.
I can remember asking my Mom if I had to call him Daddy and before she could answer, he stepped in and picked me up and told me he would never take the place of my Daddy but he would love me just as much. He told me to call him whatever I wanted to call him. I decided to call him Gene because I didn't want to ever call anyone Dad again for the rest of my life. That was then....that was the very first day he become my new step-father.
He stole my heart soon after that. He became the Dad that I was supposed to have and spend the rest of my life with. There's no doubt in my mind that God intended it that way. He became my hero and I wanted to follow him everywhere! He became the teacher in my life who said I was so special and could do anything I chose to do in life. He believed in me and soon called me "Baby Girl" and I called him Dad.
Yesterday was his 80th birthday. He is a young and active 80 years old...still playing 18 holes of golf three times a week. He is so funny and witty and makes me laugh all the time. He hugs me when I need a hug and seems to have all the right words to say when I am sad. He prays for me every single day and there's no place I would rather be than in those prayers and in his heart. He is so active in his church and loves to read his bible and teach anyone who wants to learn God's word. He sings all the time. He enjoys music and leads the choir in his church. He has an intense love for God and doesn't hesitate to let anyone who will listen know how much.
Happy Birthday Dad....thank you for giving me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, you believed in me. You've never told me how to live; you lived and let me watch you do it. You are one of the most knowledgeable men I've ever known and your wisdom and knowledge has guided me through life. You taught me the value of education. You taught me the value of hard work and dedication to my goals. Through your example, you taught me the value of honesty and integrity.
Most importantly, you taught me that God loves me and hears my prayers. You taught me to trust that he will always be there to help me overcome any hardship. You are, and always will be, the best and most enduring teacher and mentor in my life. I love you more than words can say and I thank you for coming into my life when you did. Thank you for the profound love you had for Mom while she lived with us here on earth and while she waits for us at her new home in Heaven. Happy Birthday Dad. From your Baby Girl.