Dear Ole Dad

ashley_blog-dadAll my life, I have been my daddy’s little girl. I am pretty sure my dad was my first best friend. He shared his Diet Coke with me, let me sit shotgun in his Bat Mobile (black Corvette), showed me how to love dogs because all they do is love us and put together every battery-operated toy Santa brought down the chimney. My dad has always found a way to provide for my each and every need – whether logical like a car and college tuition or possibly a little irrational like a giant waterbed suite, Dad was my ultimate provider.

I was a spoiled little girl. I can freely and proudly admit that. My parents waited years and years and went through the wringer of attempting to conceive before finally, in February 1985, they were told there was a month-old little girl waiting for them. I believe that because their wait was so long, my parents went above and beyond to see me smile.

In a few short months, I will be leaving the US for San Salvador, El Salvador where I will be using what I have been given, both financially and spiritually, to support and inspire their youth. As excited and anxious as I am to get there, I am also a little nervous. For the first time in my entire life, I will be more than 90 minutes away from my dad for longer than 3 weeks. The man who has always been my knight in shining armor will no longer be able to swoop in and fix my problems when they arise. When money gets tight, I will be relying on my Father in Heaven to provide, not my father on earth. This is scary.

Last weekend, on August 9th, Dad celebrated his 66th birthday! Feliz cumpleaños, Papa! All he wanted for his birthday was to be surrounded by people he loves. So he bought a giant stack full of meal tickets at the St. James Lutheran Bratwurst Festival and treated his closest friends and family to a delicious meal.

Dad's Birthday 2015

Guys, I can’t remember the last time I ate so well. My plate was full to the point of using nearby tablecloth space as overflow. I scarfed down a bratwurst and a mound of sauerkraut. I chomped corn on the cob like a typewriter in desperate need of Ritalin. And last but not least, with grace and respect, I demolished an entire apple dumpling covered in maple syrup.

I will miss these dinners with Dad. His home cooked dinners have always been one of favorite weekly traditions. I will miss holding his hand as we pray over our meal. I will miss begging him not to give Dewey so much food from the table. I will miss pleading for him to “STOP! DAD! That’s enough! I’ll never eat that much!” And I will miss my weekly summertime post-dinner comas on his beautiful back porch.

In a few short months, weekly updates with Dad will be given over internet videochats and our love will be shared over the airwaves. Not seeing him every week will take some getting used to, but it is because of my “dear, ole dad” that I have an ounce of the courage it is taking me to leave the comfortable and familiar for the unexpected and unknown. Watching my dad get up before dawn almost every day of the year (holidays included, much to my frustration) and go to work to provide for his family instilled in me a work ethic I truly did not believe I had until just a few weeks ago. With my dad’s example to guide me, I have been working harder than ever before to make my way to San Salvador and fulfil my calling. But the greatest thing Dad has ever done for me has been to give me his heart. Because my dad has spent the past 30 years filling my life and soul with love,  my heart is overflowing and oh-so-ready to pour into the lives and souls of the Salvadoran youth.

My dad was definitely my first best friend and whether we are ten or thousands of miles apart, he will continue to fill my life with his love. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he found a way to send one of his famous New York Strip Steaks my way. He’s pretty clever like that.