"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
I sat and stared at the clock anxiously awaiting 2 pm. I anticipated the laughter dad gave as he would sweep me off the floor squeezing me with a bear hug. He had been at work since the early hours of the morning and was now arriving home. Most often we would then go to the basement where his tools hung on the pegboard wall. I would sit and watch with fascination as he built, fixed and tinkered with his newest project. On cold days we would start a fire in the old wood burning stove that stood in the corner of the darker area of the large cement room. I was very young during those days. My older brothers were at school. They would be arriving home soon, but these were the moments my dad gave me alone — the time we had where he made me feel special and loved. These are some of my earliest memories of my dad. He would tell me stories as he worked and gave me something he never stopped giving. He gave me love and support.
I know it now by the terms "unconditional love." He never stopped giving it throughout my life. I never questioned for one split second the love my dad had for me or whether he would be there supporting me. Never. That does not mean he approved of everything I did nor that he did not confront my mistakes. It means he was there even when I did not think I deserved it. He had confidence in me even when I felt I had failed. He loved me through life events, even when I did not love myself. He would patiently wait when I pushed him aside, usually out of my guilty feelings of doing wrong.
I often wonder how many people are out in the world today who have never had the opportunity of such a gift? An award that most likely had the most significant impact on my life. One I had received so freely. It would seem to be a right everyone should have, but just as most rights are, it was a privilege.
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is the privilege all are gifted in America. When one looks upon their rights as a privilege, one bears the fruits of those rights. The history of dads life displays this to be true.
Be brave and fierce but always remain humble.
Your dad and my mom were the epitome of unconditional love and my prayer is that my children feel that from me. What a privilege it was to have both these amazing people as my example of what a parent should be.