How do I even start to talk about my Dad?  He is such an amazing man, in so many different ways. Today was his birthday – one day after mine. It’s always been very special to me that we almost share a birthday. I’m a Daddy’s girl, and maybe our birthdays are part of the reason why.

We went to Hawaii with Mom and Dad in November of 2009. It was a vacation to remember!

My Dad calls me Number One. The nickname has two meanings: I am the eldest child in my family – literally, the number one (first) child. It’s also a little inside reference to Star Trek. When we moved back to Canada from Botswana in 1986, we had a TV for the first time – I was 10. One of the channels that we could capture with our rabbit ears aired Star Trek: The Next Generation, and it quickly became a family favourite. (Actually, I’m not sure if Mom ever liked it.) In the show, Captain Picard refers to his second-in-command, Commander Riker, as Number One. For some reason, the name stuck on me, and I love it.

Dad is the second-youngest of six children, and the youngest boy in his family. He is definitely the family entertainer. At any family gathering, Dad will take out his guitar and we’ll have a sing-a-long. I think newcomers to the family find this tradition a little disconcerting when they first start attending our gatherings. But most learn to tolerate it and some even seem to like it. I think singing together is one of the best parts of family gatherings. With many songs and hymns, we actually break out into four-part harmony. It’s pretty impressive and Dad is usually the instigator.

Dad’s guitar is full of many wonderful memories. As I was growing up, he and Mom would sing duets at various missionary gatherings, Dad usually singing the melody, with Mom in an alto harmony. As a child, I fell in love with the music of Gordon Lightfoot, the Carpenters, The Mamas and the Papas, Stevie Wonder, and many others – not because we listened to their albums a lot, but because my Dad was always singing the songs. I learned to love singing because my Dad loves singing. One of my favourite childhood photos shows me standing on a chair beside Dad at a microphone. He’s playing his guitar, and we’re singing a duet together. Opportunities to perform duets with my father don’t come around anymore. Hmmm, maybe we should remedy that.

Another defining characteristic of my father is his ability to make something amazing out of bits of wood, an old sliding glass door, a salad bowl, or a run-down basement. He is a true MacGyver. Recently, he renovated his basement, but instead of just throwing some paint on the walls and updating the bathroom, he tore down walls and created new ones, got a hole cut through the foundation for an extra window, and re-invented storage spaces. He turned a two-bedroom, one bath (shower but no tub) basement suite into a three-bedroom, two bath suite with a full-sized tub in the main bathroom. It looks incredible, and he did most of it with recycled or second-hand materials. He really should get a feature story in a home-renovation magazine. He’s also a handy guy to have around when you’ve just bought a 55-year-old house that desperately needs a facelift. We’re flying him down in September.

Me and Dad at my triathlon in June. It was awesome having him there to cheer for me on Father's Day.

The most magnificent thing about my Dad, though, is his love for his family. Anytime I needed a playmate, or a tutor, or a basketball coach, or a reading partner, he was there. Anytime I needed some discipline or a gentle reminder, he was there. Anytime I was confused about God, or boys, or friends, or anything, I could talk to him…well, at least until I was 16 or so. He included me in his world of building and fixing things, and was very much involved in my world of school and friends.  On Father’s Day I participated in a triathlon, and my Dad was my helper and cheerleader, even in the cold, damp weather.  He nurtures, encourages, challenges, and adores all of his girls (including my Mom).

This post doesn’t even scratch the surface of the wonderful man who is my father. He is honorable, trust-worthy, loving, kind, humble, confident, and handy. He is strong, sensitive, thoughtful, patient, idealistic, smart, and spiritual. As most teenagers do with their fathers, we had a rough spot in our relationship – that pesky teenage rebellion stage that is so painful when you’re going through it. But those times taught me so much about who I am, and who he is. I feel so fortunate to have him as my father. He is a great example of what it means to love unconditionally.

So Daddy, Happy Birthday! I hope my humble words have begun to express how much I love, respect and admire you. You amaze me.

Love from your No. 1