My dad is the kind of man who can make friends with any grocery cashier within a 100-foot radius. He’s served in the United States Navy since he graduated high school in Massachusetts, but I know him more for his corny one-liners and his ability to fix anything if my mom needs him to. When we watched the first Transformers movie he was silent until the end credits, when he looked at me solemnly and said, “If Megan Fox was a president, what president would she be?” I didn’t know. His mustache twitched in the beginnings of a smile. “Babe-erham Lincoln.”
This is my dad. His favorite level of Mario Kart is Moo Moo Meadows. He cleans out the drains of my apartment every time he visits, even though they’re gross, because he loves me and that’s how he shows it. When he visited Pullman for the WSU vs. Stanford game this year, we spent the whole day together. We sat in the bar section of Dupus, drank beer together for the first time and he texted my mom that being able to hang out with me was “so cool he wanted to cry.” When he showed me the text he sent, beaming, I almost cried myself.
I’m the first to say I’m not too good about calling my dad. I forget to text, Facebook chats are short and phone calls are to the point. I love my dad more than anything. He’s the strongest man I’ve ever known; you have to be to leave your children and wife for nine months at a time in a submarine just to provide for them, and provide he did. We fished when I was a kid, went clamming, went camping, watched movies together and talked about his childhood in Massachusetts. I remember all of the little things from my childhood with a knot in my throat and tears in my eyes because I know that there’s nothing he could have done better.
Dad’s birthday is Nov. 10. For those paying attention, that’s today. For his birthday, dad and mom are visiting their hometown in Massachusetts to celebrate a family friend’s 50th wedding anniversary. He’ll get to see his identical twin and sister and eat all of the amazing food on the East Coast that I know he misses.
He’ll shuck clams for my mom at the clam bake they’re going to, even though he’s allergic and it’ll make his hands swell up, just because he knows it’ll make my mom happy. For his birthday, he’ll hopefully read this column knowing that although I’m not there with them, I love him and still can’t believe how lucky I am that I get to be his daughter.