I am, without a doubt, a daddy’s girl. Not the sort that sits on his lap and manipulates him into letting me go on an unsupervised ski vacation with only my college-aged boyfriend–he’s too smart for that anyway. More like the kind that just absolutely adores her father, loves spending time with him, and would, without pause, jump in front of a speeding train for him.
You see, my dad is just cool. He had three girls, but in no way did I ever think he wanted boys instead. He didn’t teach us we could only play with Barbies, made sure we knew how to throw a baseball, and against my mother’s wishes he let us watch violent action movies from a young age (I still have a soft spot for Cliffhanger). He let us explore and discover our own likes and dislikes; I’ve been climbing mountains in Colorado since the time I was 8 years old, along with my dad, uncles, and male cousins. But just as cool is that he learned to braid our hair so that when the urge to be girly struck we could go with it. He still is amazingly lively and flies all over the country to see his favorite bands perform or take trips with his buddies.
He is also just a good person who works extremely hard and would do anything for his family. I remember when I was very young and he had to take a night job of delivering newspapers in order to make ends meet. On the days my mom also had to work an evening shift we would ride in the back of the car and sing songs and play and sleep while he drove his route. I’ve always looked back on those nights with fondness; being close to my dad and knowing he cared so much he would do anything to make sure we flourish in this world, even though I wouldn’t be surprised if he views it as a moment he failed his daughters.
Just recently my dad and I climbed the highest mountain in Colorado, Mt. Elbert (14,433 ft). We brought along my 20-pound white, fluffy dog because she really loves being outdoors and hiking. It was a hard go. Blame it on being the first climb of the season, the overall distance, or the pretty decent elevation gain per mile but we were wiped. About 2 miles from the bottom my little trooper of a pup had just had enough. I knew it would probably end up that I would carry her part of the way but I did not anticipate how dead I would be. But I will always hold her well being as paramount so I picked her up. And I fell further and further behind my father. Despite his own exhaustion, he saw me struggling and did what he always does: lifted my burden. He emptied his pack and hoisted Layla inside and took my entire struggle onto his own shoulders.
One of the great things about mountain climbing is that it leaves you with a lot of time to reflect. Some of my most revealing inner thoughts have come while my feet pound one after another on the trail. As I was walking with my dad that day I realized how strong he is. He had to be hurting at least as bad, if not worse than I was and it would almost certainly take him longer to recover and yet he took it upon himself to ease my load. One day he won’t be able to do that. One day I will be caring for him and trying to take his pain on as my own. And that day will be the saddest of my entire life, not because I wouldn’t be glad to do as much for him as he does for me, but because I know in that moment he will feel defeated and it will just break my heart.
So to my father I would just like to say, thank you. Thank you for being the most incredible person. Thank you for being someone to look up to and to lean on. And when you need me, I’ll be here because you raised me to be that sort of person. I would be less in every way without you. It’s not a stretch at all to say you are my hero.
Brandi is a lawyer in Denver who spends very little time actually lawyering. She can usually be found working for free at a non-profit, hiking up mountains, or bossing her husband around because he made the mistake of asking her for help with his business one time. She’s horribly technologically inept (unless people still use AIM in which case she’s a genius) and takes one bite out of every donut instead of finishing a single donut in its entirety, which is probably a metaphor for something but she hasn’t figured out what it is yet. You can read more from Brandi on her blog, Randi Nickle.