As long as I can remember, I've loved superheroes. What kid doesn't? They're strong, they're brave, they're larger than life and always there when we need them. No matter how bleak the situation may be, we can always count on them to swoop in, save the day, and demolish the city. I've been an Iron Man girl for years, but there was one superhero I loved before I ever heard the name Tony Stark. It's not Superman. It's not Batman. My superhero isn't famous or rich or the owner of a spectacular suit. He doesn't have breathtaking anger management problems. He doesn't have a hammer or hair with magical properties. He doesn't have a shield that he throws really hard while wearing a suit so tight it makes everyone uncomfortable. He doesn't have an army. He's not super fast, super strong, or a master of forty-seven different types of martial arts. He probably couldn't hit the broad side of a building with a bow and arrow. But he's still my favorite. He's my dad.
When we were little, Daddy used to tell us that he could pick up houses and that he moved cars out of the way when he needed a parking spot. We believed him. Every single word. I knew that nothing could ever go wrong because my dad was there to save the day. I still feel that way. He might not be able to pick up the house, but he can pick me up when I fall down. He might not be able to move cars, but he would move heaven and earth to take care of his family. He gets up and goes to work every day to make sure we're all taken care of. He's a good man, a good father. The very best, to me. He knows what it means to make sacrifices for the people he loves. He's fair in everything he does, and if anyone said anything otherwise, nobody would believe it. There are very few people in the world as good as my dad, and I'm so very blessed to be able to call him not only my father but my friend.
My dad is an example not only to me but to everyone he meets. He puts God first in everything he does. He leads his family in a way that honors God. He made sure we were in church when we were younger, but he didn't leave it to the Sunday School teachers to tell us about Jesus's love. He preached it, but more than that, he lived it. He taught us to work hard, and he showed us what hard work looks like. He showed us that opportunities rarely drive up in a limousine, dressed in a slick black suit. He taught us to be grateful and to appreciate the little things, because in the end, it's the little things that end up looking like the big things. He taught us that love is more than a word; it's a verb, and while it's great to say, "I love you," it's even better to show it. He showed Beau and me what a Godly husband looks like, and he's set the bar high. He taught us to value ourselves and to never settle, to be true to ourselves and to remember that, at the end of the day, God loves us and so does he. He is a living example of a true gentleman, and I am proud to say that he and Mama are raising a son that is a mirror of those ideals. He is capable of handling almost any situation, but he has never pretended to be a "macho man." Daddy is quick to give out hugs and tell us he loves us. He showed us that real men express themselves to the ones they love most. He encouraged us to value our education, to love learning, and to embrace the talents, quirks, and oddities we were given. He has never tried to shape us to a pre-existing mold he made for us. He is proud of us for who we are and what we have done, are doing, and will do in the future. All he asks is that we love him, Mama, and each other, honor God, and stay away from hippie tree-huggers and Florida fans.
Daddy gives good advice, too. When we were younger and in school, his suggestion for dealing with anything was, "Punch them in the nose." None of us actually punched anyone in the nose, but the advice was unexpected enough to make us stop crying and start laughing. That is still his favorite piece of advice, but he doesn't use it as much anymore, since we're all at that age of having such trouble trying not to become violent psychopaths.
He loves football, rock and roll music, and Phil Robertson (and the rest of the Duck Dynasty cast, but especially Phil). He's the reason we knew who Gene Simmons was at four or five, and that We Will Rock You was, in fact, not sung by a woman. He encourages listening to "good music," but despite his intolerance of "teeny bopper" music, the first thing he did when he got his new truck was program a pop station for us. He is not fazed by screaming, giggling, or the general hysteria that accompanies the mention of certain names/bands/top secret security agencies. He accepts the fact that we have to stop and admire any magazine with a picture of One Direction on it. He doesn't care if our music is so loud the entire back of our house is shaking (as long as it's good music and the Dawgs aren't playing). He puts up with three women who don't have much of a grasp on the concept of time, wear a lot of makeup, and spend an ungodly amount of time getting dressed/picking out clothes/packing. He even sat (relatively) patiently and quietly every Tuesday night from 8 PM to 9 PM while Beau and I watched Pretty Little Liars on his TV. He drove us from Georgia to California last summer without a word of complaint, for the sole purpose of letting us follow our dreams.
He's involved, too, in every aspect of our life. He and Mama are a team, and even though they have their moments, they have managed to raise three children with good heads on their shoulders, a solid sense of right and wrong, and an innate reflex that answers "Yes ma'am," "No ma'am," "Yes, sir," or "No, sir," when asked anything by anybody. He goes into the studio with us whenever he can, gives us his honest opinion about whatever we're working on, and always manages to waylay our insecurities and encourage us when we're stuck in his quiet way. If there's one thing we know, it's that we can always go to Daddy about anything. He will always listen, he will always be honest, and even if it stings a bit, he will tell us what we need to hear. He's always on our side, too, always looking out for what's best for the whole family. We can count on him to be there, no matter what. He will swoop in and save the day without ever putting a scratch in his reading glasses. When things look bad, he's at our side. When it feels like the whole world's falling apart and everyone has run away, he's got our backs. And when we can't fight the battle before us, he ties a sheet around his neck and takes care of it.
But of course he does. That's what superheroes do.
Happy birthday, Daddy. We love you so, so much. You're the best,
L + B^2