This day is for him. It's his birthday.
Almost 20 years ago now, I met him for the first time. I was nervous and not really sure what to expect. He was a detective in the LAPD and the father of my 15 year old boyfriend. He was quiet and reserved, all kinds of parental.
He had high standards for his kids and demanded that they live up to them. He worked hard and never complained. He took genuine joy in his family and loved the things they loved.
It didn't take long for me to get to know his other side. He has a ridiculous sense of humor. I've seen him draw faces on people with sunscreen and parallel park a boat. He's a prankster. He loves to mess with people. It is over this personality trait that him and I have bonded the most over the years. No matter what else is going on, good, bad or indifferent, we can always count on each other for harassment.
I've needed the comic relief in my life lately.
A few years ago now, they moved to be closer to us. He taught my children to love spending time with him, and that it wasn't where they were going or what they were doing that mattered. It's that they are together. Aidan loves to spend a morning sitting in a boat, even on the days that no one catches anything. Ashley will gladly spend hours sweeping out his garage just to hang out with him. Ally just started full time school last week, and is already lamenting the fact that her weekly lunches with Papa are a thing of the past. AJ can't wait for his turn.
He will drop just about anything for us, no questions asked. He was a police officer by trade, but has since become an electrician, a drywaller, a mechanic, an appliance repairman, a personal driver, a landscaper, a tile installer, a mover and more. He knows I need something when I ask him if he's busy today.
He's never too busy.
He's had to take on a new role in my life, one that isn't fair for me to ask of him. He's the only father I have left now, and I find myself leaning on him more than I probably should. I will never be able to repay him for the things I have needed.
I am a lucky girl to have him in my life.
Happy Birthday, Papa.