All growing up, I knew my dad was a good guy. He encouraged my writing, came to my ballet recitals, and on and on. But I don't think I really appreciated who he was until I grew up enough to move to another hemisphere by myself for a while.
For the first 21 years of my life, my dad was just my dad. He was just a guy who dropped anything to help me with my math and Spanish homework. And after high school, he was just a guy willing to stay up half the night to talk me out of marrying boys who weren't good for me (without letting on that he was doing just that).
Before I went away, I didn't know that so few men are as smart and dedicated and thoughtful as my dad. All the distance I got when I left helped me to understand.
Sometimes, after we leave my parents' house, C. teases me: "It really took you 21 years?" Yeah, I think it did. I'm glad I finally figured it out. Thanks, Dad, for being born and for being so much better than I understood you were for so long.