Greatest Dad in the World… for real!

This Friday, March 21st, my dad will turn 70 yrs old. It doesn’t seem possible. In some ways, over the last several years, I’ve noticed both my parents aging. But, in my mind, when I think of my dad, he is still the man I saw when I was little looking up at him.
I’ve always known I was a very lucky girl. There are plenty of “daddy’s girls” out there, but doubt there are many as fortunate as I. You see, I have the perfect father! I’m serious! Look up “perfect dad” in the dictionary, google it, search any resource and you will find a detailed description of my father. You ask, “how do you know he is the perfect dad?” Well, I’ve thought about it a lot. Here are the basic qualities my dad possesses that make up Greatest Dad Ever material:
1. He had a good dad. That is so important! Having a good example of how you should be. I’ve seen others who haven’t had an example. They just either have to learn the hard way, find guidance somewhere else or perpetuate the cycle. Whenever my dad talks about his childhood, it’s always happy, fun memories. Some of his favorite stories involve my Grandpa Ford. His dad wasn’t rich. If anything, he struggled very hard to provide for eight children. But, he was rich in love, understanding, and humor. I give Grandpa Ford much credit for making my dad who he is. Grandpa died when I was 4 yrs old. I regret not getting to know him like my dad knew him.
2. My dad was the “middle child”…Yes, I do believe that birth order shapes who you will be. Research has proven middle children behave differently than first borns or the babies of the family. Often they are polar opposites of the other children in their family. They are not doted on as the baby is and they are not held to the high standards of a first born. In a sense, they have the freedom to be who they really are. No pressure, no fussing over them. My dad was far from a perfect child, but I believe his placement in the family structure allowed him to be truly who he was. Not being held to a level of perfection that his older brother was and having younger siblings who often took the spotlight, made him a well rounded young man.
3. He married a good woman. I have to give my mom credit in this. She encouraged him to stop smoking before I was born. She got him involved in church, which subsequently led to his salvation and his call to ministry. If not for my mom, who knows where dad would have ended up! She is still his biggest supporter and I’ve always envied their relationship (happy to say now I have that too!) You know what they say? Behind every great man….:)
4. He always put family first. My dad was never a “man’s man”. He didn’t have a lot of extracurricular activities that took him away from Mom, Marc and I. He lived for us. He worked hard to provide for us, he was enthusiastic about our lives and what we were doing and he always supported our dreams and did his best to help us accomplish them. When I was in college, dad helped me study for all my exams by listening to me ramble on about microorganisms, the kreb cycle, pathophysiology and psychology. He wasn’t particularly interested in these topics, nor did he understand most of them, but he listened and let me talk. I aced many a test because of him. As a grandpa, he built tree houses, he played dress up, danced in the kitchen with Madison and even let Keegan ramp over him, as he lay on the ground, on a dirt bike! My dad has a firm grasp on the small things and how some day they truly are the big things.
5. He lived a good example for us. He always said there were 3 keys to raising good children: 1. Example 2. Example 3. Example:) And, that he did well. I’ve never known my dad to be anything but honest, trust worthy, kind and compassionate. One of his favorite quotes and one he actually used in my yearbook my senior year was “There are four things that make life. A faith fit to live by, a self fit to live with, a work fit to live for and somebody to love and be loved by. Along with these, if you learn how to live with thanksgiving you need not seek happiness, it will seek you”. And, he truly lived this way. I always said he had a Clint Eastwood quality about him. My dad rarely had to say much. He walked the walk and my brother and I knew where he stood on just about everything. We also knew when he was disappointed, mad or hurt. His silence said more than any words he could have spoken. He garnered respect from us in living the example of how we should be living as well. Integrity and honor are two good words to describe my dad. I’ve always admired that about him and strive to be like him.
6. His great sense of humor. My dad can find a laugh in any situation in life. Some might say our family has a morbid sense of humor and perhaps we do. I know we have been able to laugh through most every hardship that has come our way including my brother’s liver failure, dad’s heart attacks and stroke and in the death of loved ones. I guess it’s been our therapy and it has helped us cope when grief, sorrow, worry or even anger that could have destroyed us. Dad has always been the one to lighten up every predicament and ease the tension in the room. Since his stroke, he finds more things humorous than before! It’s hard to spend more than 10 minutes with my dad without laughing.
7. Last, but the MOST important thing that makes my dad so great? He has lived a good Christian life. He showed us that loving God and your fellow man were the two most important things you can do. I remember once he told me that being a Christian isn’t about keeping the Ten Commandments, going to church every week or knowing your bible verses. He said it was about loving God and loving your neighbor as you would love yourself. He also expressed to my brother and I that offending others, regardless of what we were doing, was a sin. No matter how small or how big. It’s not about the actual act so much as how it impacts those around you. This blog is not big enough to share all the lessons I learned from listening to, but mainly watching my dad live. He is not perfect but he has walked closely with God and it shows. His Godly example has been my rock in life and has impacted my children’s lives as well. I know that I am here today, healthy and happy, because my dad spent many a night on his knees in prayer for me.
My prayer for him is that he has many, many more happy and healthy years. I pray he is here to welcome in his great grandchildren and that they may know him like my brother, my children, my niece and nephew have known him. I pray his legacy lives on in me and my children long after he is gone. I pray my son is learning from him what makes a good man, a good husband and a good father. I pray daughter seeks to find a man that lives up to my dad’s qualities as a husband and father.
I am thankful God has spared him and retained his health despite many a scare (2 heart attacks, a stroke, diabetes, a pacemaker to name a few!). I am also thankful that through his example, I have found a man that is just as wonderful as he to spend the rest of my life with!
There are men who, in 70 years, have created large corporations, built buildings, communities or served public offices and been influential in government and even helped make history. There are men who have made a fortune in their 70 years on earth and have much monetarily to leave their offspring when they are gone. But, the wealth that my dad has accumulated and passed on cannot be bought. It cannot be quantified in dollar signs or graphs. But, my dad’s legacy lives on in each of us. It lives in my brother who will pass it on to everyone he touches. It lives in me, my children, my niece and nephew, my cousins…I could go on and on.
To say you’ve had that kind of impact in just one person’s life is more rewarding than anything physical you could ever leave behind.
I am proud to be the daughter of Dwayne Ford. I hope when others see me, they see a glimpse of him and even at 42 yrs of age, I still strive to make him proud. I love my dad and I hope this 70th birthday is a special one for him:)

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