I write to you not only as your daughter, but as one of many children who came from intense, high pressure, and demanding parents. As a mother of three now, I flashback and remember everything, Dad.
I remember you yelling so loudly from the sidelines with instruction. I see now it was only because you wanted me to be my best. You used to sternly tell me I didn’t play hard enough. It frustrated me then, but I now know it was because you believed hard work was the key to success. Often, you offered me an incentive if I scored a goal. You were only motivating me, which many times worked.
I remember rushing you home from work to get me to practice on time. To this day, I don’t know how you were able to juggle everything. There was nothing that stopped you from seeing me play.
I used to cringe when you shook your head in disappointment on the sideline. I remember thinking I played the best game, and you telling me things I could’ve done even better. You believed there was always room for improvement.
There wasn’t a paper I wrote that I didn’t have you proof read. It made you so angry when I claimed I was done with an assignment, but you knew darn well I rushed through it. You were only instilling good study habits in me.
No matter what, though, Dad, you were so proud.
I remember you researching to find the best soccer program in the state. Had you not forced me out of the car to tryout, I would’ve opted out of the challenge. When I was so overwhelmed, it was you who made me feel better.
I remember you putting me through absurd workouts inside the racquetball courts every winter to work on skills over and over and over again. In the end, this was my biggest strength.
I remember fighting with you like crazy because you were making me do what I believed were impossible tasks. They weren’t impossible. They were just extremely difficult and exhausting. These times always ended with, “I knew you could do it.”
When you weren’t at one of my college games, I remember feeling empty from your absence.
It was you who walked into the hospital after I totaled my car, and only cared if I was okay. I refused to get behind the wheel ever again, and you not only made me drive back to school the next day, but you lended me your car.
You were terribly worried about me at the time of my eating disorder. You literally ran miles across Ohio State’s campus to get me from the hotel to join you and Mom. I didn’t eat, but you blew out your back.
I remember you so proudly telling the world I played college soccer at Michigan State University.
Dad, there is one underlying theme throughout all of my childhood memories: you putting your heart and soul into me. You were so dedicated and cared so deeply about me as your daughter, and it’d be a shame if it went unacknowledged. There is never the right time to tell you how much I appreciate and love you. So I am making the time now.
Dad, it isn’t by chance that our family enjoys each other’s company and remains inseparable. It isn’t by chance that I got a full-ride athletic scholarship and my brothers are both successful physicians. Dad, you challenged me to step out of my comfort zone, which always scared me to death, because you believed in me. You provided me unimaginable opportunities that I am forever grateful. Nothing stopped you, Dad, from making us your number one priority.
You demanded excellence, but you did everything in your power to help us achieve it. You put so much pressure on me, but only because you knew I was capable. You yelled at me when you knew I had more to give. You expected me to be first, and to win. It infuriated me then, Dad, but, now as a parent, I appreciate it more than you will ever know.
Dad, you didn’t expect anything from us that you didn’t expect from yourself. You exemplified the phrase, “Lead by example,” and you set the bar exceptionally high.
According to popular belief, Dad, many would argue against your parenting style. I beg to differ.
The bond we have as father and daughter is unrivaled. Your commitment to my success, particularly in soccer, required us to spend an extensive amount of time together. We traveled, we laughed, we ate, we celebrated. We had the best times.
You set the bar high, Dad. I will do my best to rise and meet it.
Dad, thank you for being there for me always. Your love is absolutely selfless and unconditional. I can never find the words to express my feelings for you and tell you how much I love you.