At first you only showed me what most people still see today, a man with vision and drive to match. A man with a serious exterior and controlled demeanor. A man who creates goals and doesn’t stop until he achieves them. A man who faces life with very deliberate intentions.
The moment you made Ryanne’s stuffed animal dance and talk just to make me laugh, I knew there were more layers than the casual eye could see. You are a man who doesn’t always let the world see who he really is, but has chosen the kids and I to share the best part of yourself.
Today, twelve years later, not only do you drive a station wagon, you have a dog and spend your money on yard renovations and college tuition. You devote your time sitting in baseball stands and at choir concerts. You spend all day Saturday driving 10 hours to move your son into his dorm.
You once were a man who was indifferent to the slobbery beasts who run amok at the dog park, but now you are a man whom I see with tears in his eyes as he reads about dogs living their last days. You are a man whose budget was reallocated from fancy dinners to funding your favorite charity, Old Dog Haven.
One could look at all this and commend you for what you sacrificed. However, I don’t think you would ever use the word ‘sacrifice.’ You have chosen from a place of pure love to put the kids and me first. It is a profound gift when a parent chooses to love a child they didn’t create. I believe a parent isn’t defined by who they put on this earth. They are defined by the choices they make every day, choices to put their children’s needs ahead of their own. You, my love, are the best damn daddy I could have asked for.
You might say the kids and I have changed you. I believe it is in equal trade. You have also changed us. Our lives are richer because of you. You have always been our biggest fan, believing in us when we don’t believe in ourselves. You have created opportunities to foster our talents and our dreams. You have devoted your time and your efforts to create a life for our family we would not have without you.
You have loved us.
And we love you.
Happy Birthday, my love.