When I was five, my dad got pulled over at gunpoint. I remember it vividly because I was in the car with him.
My whole family was.
“Our lives could have changed in an instant. “— My Mom
We were driving home after a lively fun-filled night at Chuck E. Cheese when a 1987 gold Camero cut my dad off on the highway. My dad (being a bit of a hot head when it came to protecting his family) flipped his high beams on to say, “Hey, Dude, not cool.”. Little did he know the wrath of road rage to follow — literally.
A switch flipped in Mr. Camero’s brain. He changed lanes and pulled up behind us dramatically. My dad, scared shitless, gave chase.
Not being able to lose him (and not wanting to drive home in fear of retaliation later) kept driving until we reached a dead end.
We and had no choice but to turn around.
Now with our cars were facing each other, we were locked and loaded for a twisted game of chicken.
Mr. Camero came full speed ahead and until he came to a screeching halt at my dad’s driver's side window. He stuck his arm out his window and pointed a gun at my dad’s face.
“Hey man, okay, okay, please don’t shoot. I’ll get out.”
Before my dad got out of the car he told my brother, my cousin and I to climb to the back and duck and cover. My mom was already slumped in the passenger seat.
We all started sobbing for my dad’s life.
My dad got out of the car, puffed his chest out, and walked past the hood. With tears streaming down his face, he put his hands up and surrendered.
“Okay. Shoot me. Shoot ME. Please let my family go.”
Those were the longest three seconds of my life.
The jackass in the Camero sped off, and my family and I lived to see another day.
Thinking about that traumatizing memory sparked something in me today. What if my dad had died that day? What would I want him and all the other phenomenal fathers out there to know before they left this earth?
- We Love and Appreciate You — We don’t hate you even if we say we do. We love how hard you work and everything you do to provide for our family. We appreciate every penny you earned, and every drop of blood, sweat, and tears you pour into the family.
- We Hear You — No matter where we are in life or how old we are, your voice is always playing in the back of our heads. Be good, Don’t smoke, Drink responsibly, Be aware of your surroundings, Stand up for what you believe in, Always do the right thing, and Reduce your speed in the rain. We hear you; we are listening, and always take what you have to say to heart.
- We See You — Buried beneath the piles of our fierce independence, husbands, and kids, we know you’re always there, and we’re always thinking about you too.
- We Forgive You (and We’re Sorry Too) — We remember your bad days, but we remember the times you came into our rooms and apologized for them even more. We’re both humans, we understand, and we’re sorry too.
- Laugh About Life With Us — Laughter with you is like oxygen to us. It’s part of our basic human needs. We are never too old or far away to laugh with you again at the drop of a hat.
- Don’t Blame Our Bad Mood on Our Periods — Even if it’s 100% true, don’t say a word. Circle back around the next week so we can laugh about it together.
- We Don’t Want You to be Perfect — We just want you to be there. Call us, text us, buy us a cup of coffee, look us in the eye and ask us if we’re okay and if there’s anything we need.
- Being Your Daughter Brings Us More Joy than You Give Yourself Credit For — By our mid-thirties, we won’t remember anything you bought us, but we can tell you how often you told us you loved us, how many bear hugs you gave us and all the times we felt safe.
- It’s Okay If You Can’t Fix It — Thank you for fixing almost everything. You’re not a failing at fatherhood if you couldn’t.
- Hold Us Accountable For The Little Things — Charge us rent, sell us your truck and make sure we make the monthly payments, but also know when to back off. We need both of those things from you.
- We Still Think You’re Cool — Showing up is the coolest thing you can do as a Dad.
- We Are Sexual Creatures Just Like You and Mom — We are going to have sex in your house, deal with it. Talk to us about it. Teach us how to be responsible with our bodies and how to love and respect ourselves and others.
- Treat Our Moms With Love and Respect — If you can’t, let go with love and dignity. How you treat our mothers is something we will internalize for the rest of our lives. It could be your most significant accomplishment or haunt us both for generations to come. No one can take your place, so make sure that the place we hold for you is an honorable one no matter what.
- You’re Doing a Good Job — You’re setting a great example. Raising a daughter is heavy AF. We know you’re doing the best you can. You’re a phenomenal man and an even better father.
- We Wish There Were More Fathers Out There Like You — I realize this whole article is incredibly biased. I hope that I’m not the only girl who had a great dad. My goal is to give hope to the women that didn’t have an upstanding father-figure in their lives that there are good men out there for their daughters.
- (*Bonus*) Thank You — We finally understand what sacrifices you made to make sure our world felt safe all the time.
“Growing up in the sanctuary of your love is something I will always cherish and a memory I could never forget. Now, more than ever, I appreciate you for that. I love you, dad.” — From a Hallmark card I taped in our Father/Daughter journal in 2004
I went digging for inspiration on how to close this piece out and found a journal that my dad and I started. Ironically the date of his first entry happened to be December 29, 2001. The book is filled with Post-It notes, pictures, birthday cards, and hysterical letters about our triumphs and struggles together as father and daughter. Not coincidentally, our last entry was in 2009 — the year my son was born. I’m going to fire the book back up in the year 2020 because the one pattern I noticed while flipping through the pages was that my dad always wrote me back.