I have a pretty great dad. I have more than my fair share of memories of happy times growing up, and while he’s always been goofy and a little bit off, he’s always been everything he knew how to be as a father.
I don’t plan on having children of my own, and because of that I recognize I will never know the joy and hardship that is parenting. I likely will never understand my dad the way that he perhaps understood his later in life, but I will always appreciate his hand in raising me, as I know I wasn’t exactly an easy kid to parent.
I really wanted to post some funny dad stories to honor him a bit for this weekend’s holiday, but as I sat down get this out on paper, I realized, I can sum up the entirety of who my dad is to me by just telling this one story.
I broke my ankle two weeks before my wedding day. I had been on crutches and in one of those fancy Velcro boots, staying completely off of my foot leading up to the big day. The doctor had recognized how important it was to me to be able to walk down the aisle and dance my first dance, and the day before the wedding cleared me to do so without the boot. He also gave us the warning that someone needed to be holding on to me at all times so that I did not support my entire weight on my foot if at all possible.
Needless to say, it was a stressful few weeks leading up to the wedding.
In addition to all that, my mom had decided to do the wedding on a budget, and was pretty much the planning and executor for every piece of it. When the big day finally came, tensions were running high as the entire wedding party decorated the hall, set up the furniture, even laid out the “aisle” on the beach, and constructed the gazebo where we would say our vows.
By the time the ceremony was set to begin, pretty much everyone was chewing each others faces off, including my soon to be husband and I.
In hindsight I realize, you can only juggle so many family members and personalities before something has to give.
We each went to get ready in our respective areas, and as I put on my dress and made finishing touches to my make up, I was near panic attack. My amazing sister, bless her heart, was fanning me head to toe and trying to talk me down, assuring me that everything would work out and no one would kill each other in the 30 minutes it took me to get ready.
When my dad opened the door to lead me down the aisle, I just wasn’t ready. Between the pain, the fear of faceplanting while walking down the aisle in front of a camera, and the fact that the last things the groom and I said to each other were bickering words, I didn’t want to do it.
My dad took one look at me and knew it was up to him to parent me one more time.
He linked his arm in mine and pulled me into a corner. No one could see us, no one could hear us. He gave me a hug and with tears in his eyes told me how absolutely beautiful I look.
And then, he said something to me I will never forget. He said, “Nikki, if this isn’t exactly what you want, tell me now. I will carry you out the door, load you up in my car, and drive away. For the next 30 seconds I’m still your dad and I will take care of you if that’s what you need me to do.”
That was the turning point. That was the moment I was absolutely certain that I was going to walk down that aisle and marry the only person who had ever loved me more than my daddy.
I hugged him, took a deep breath, and told him I was ready.
As we walked down the aisle linked arm and arm I whispered to him, “don’t worry, even once he signs the ownership papers, you’ll always be my dad.”
We arrived at the alter laughing and crying, and happier than I had ever been in my entire life.
So thanks Dad, for always seeming to find a way to say exactly what I need to hear. Especially at the most important moments.