Our parents let us play in the woods, made us eat our vegetables and took us to bed and breakfasts on vacation.
One of these places was nestled in a New York state village, few minutes from where Almanzo Wilder grew up. We picked apples from his orchard and the next morning woke up to breakfast in a white kitchen.
The B & B owner was chatty and despite her intentions to leave us be, she ended up sitting at the table with us. She was unaccountably enthralled with our life, where we lived and where we were going.
She told Millie and I that we were such strong and healthy looking girls, which I didn’t think was complimentary then, but now I know better.
And near the end of our meal she leaned forward and said, “Girls. Make sure you find a man who treats you like your dad.”
We felt embarrassed and squirmed at the urgency in her voice. She didn’t say it because it was a nice thing to say. She said it out of fear and experience, knowing that kindness is special.
Years later, when my sister’s co-workers were amazed by a man that would wait and listen, I thought about the B&B lady’s words.
And when Dad put my hand in another man’s open palm, I thought about it again. How one had taught me to inform an opinion, and the other loved to hear them.
How Dad modeled analysis over drama. Forgiveness over gossip. Reading a book over seeking greener grass. How to enjoy Jim Croce, hugs and coffee ice cream and how to suck it up and do your taxes.
And how the man I married cherishes who I am and when I figure stuff out by myself and how excited I get about making things from scratch.
Shoes are always too big to fill and some are meant to stay on a person’s feet forever. But my dad’s worn out dress shoes made a straight path that showed me how a man is meant to love.
So to that lady somewhere in New York, I didn’t marry the same man as my father, but I married one who lives like Him, the one Father. And that, it turns out, is kind of the same thing
Thank you, Dad.