Happy Father's Day

Dear Dad,

There are never going to be enough words for me to tell you how much you mean to me. To tell you how good of a father you've been. To show you what a strong role model you are. To express the depth of my love and gratitude  for all the things I remember, and all the things I don't. But just to scratch the surface, as I approach my 25th birthday, here are 25 reasons I'm thankful to have you as my Dad.

1. You did not teach me to dream, you taught me to do. Even when I was very little, I always remember you asking me what I was going to do. Not what I wanted to do, what I was going to do. You never asked after my dreams like they were a fantasy. You asked for my plan and how I was going to ensure my success. You made me think strategically and chase goals with a sense of purpose.

2. You never made me feel pretty. You made me feel smart and strong. You gave praise to my mastery of crescent kicks and writing.You showed me where my true worth was, and I never forgot it.

3. You took 3 teenage girls on a road trip to the Grand Canyon. Enough said.

4. You were always there. I remember many of my friends' moms, but not many of their dads. All of my friends have memories of you, and that speaks volumes.

5. You made me feel loved. I never questioned the depth of your love for me. Not once.

6. You loved my mother. You bought her flowers and called her "baby" and hugged and kissed her when you came home.

7. You taught me to fight. Literally. You taught me how to make a fist and swing a punch and took me to Taekwondo lessons and tournaments. You never discouraged me from being strong and tough.

8. You showed me how I was supposed to be loved. I chose to marry a man who is an amazing husband and a wonderful father to our children. I chose well because of your example.

9. You are CD. That trip to the Grand Canyon with Becky and Nicole was chaotic and unforgettable and so much fun. Along the way you were dubbed CD, "Cool Dad," and had a giant cookie baked in your honor upon our return.

10. You made me feel safe. I never felt fear when I was by your side.

11. You told me bedtime stories. Not only that, but you made them up off the top of your head. Granted they were weird and occasionally not age appropriate (like the time Digger died, and you had to bring him back to life in the next story because I was so upset), but still, there are very few dads out there creating their own bedtime story sagas.

12. You empowered me. You always talked to me about how I should be an entrepreneur, a businesswoman, a chef, a lawyer, a writer. You put possibilities out there. You never put that glass ceiling above my head.

13. You taught me to be wise with my money. I have never struggled with debt and invest our family's money for the future. You were always talking to me about money, and even though I feigned that I wasn't listening, I always was.

14. You stressed the importance of learning to make a good pie. My apple pie may not be as good as Nana's, but my blue ribbon blackberry pie overtook hers at the Cazadero BBQ. Pie making is important. I don't care what anyone else says.

15. You are a wonderful grandpa. I can't wait to see all the adventures my kids have with you over the years.

16. You're a good father-in-law. You respect my husband and always make him and his family feel welcome.

17. You never put me in a box.You never discouraged me from doing anything because I was a girl. I took dance lessons and sang in the choir. I practiced martial arts and shot guns. You let me do it all.

18. You were affectionate. You always had a hug for your little boo.

19. You taught me to be independent. I was able to move out and be self-sufficient at the age of eighteen. I have many peers who still aren't there yet.

20. You taught me to work hard. When I moved out of the house, life was not easy. Making ends meet was a struggle. But I was able to do it because you taught me how to work hard for what I wanted.

21. You loved my friends. You treated my close friends as if they were your daughters too. You loved them, laughed with them, worried about them.

22. You were fearless. You were never afraid to go after what you wanted. You built a business from the ground, rebuilt it when things went wrong. You didn't let fear stand in your way, and I hope I can do the same in my life.

23. You told the truth. When you said you would do something, you did it. When you told me my horrendous, baby blue "Angel" beanie made me look like a mall-rat gang-banger, you were right. I always knew I could trust your word.

24. You sent us snipe hunting. Okay, so you always told the truth, except that time you sent us into the night to hunt an elusive chicken-like creature with glowing eyes. That was lies. But good times nonetheless.

25. You are my Dad. And you always will be. No one could ever take your place or even come close.

Happy Father's Day

I love you.