Because you made me think big.
And then bigger.
Because you have never been afraid to cry.
And often do.
Because you laugh like you mean it - filling the room with real, true, infectious joy.
Because when I was terrified and tried to run away you said, "Tough sh-t, kiddo. Get back out there."
Because you damn-near burst with pride when I did.
Because you still say to me, "You are the most perfect thing I ever did."
Because you have always believed that children are the world's most precious resource.
Because you got me a card on my twenty-first birthday that said on its front, "At twenty-one, life just begins ..." and on the inside said, "... to suck."
Because you will not tolerate injustice.
Because you believe that everyone deserves a chance.
Because you taught me that there is no woman more beautiful than one who is strong, smart, and self-assured.
Because you never wavered.
Because you never stopped believing that anything is possible.
Because you love your grandchildren with an eerily familiar mix of ferocity, tenderness, pride and sheer, unbridled joy.
Because I still call you when it all hits the fan.
And when it doesn't.
Because you read everything I write.
Because you offer to send me money that you shouldn't.
Because even though I won't let you, I know it's there if I need it.
Because you give me birthday presents in March.
And then another on my birthday in August because, well, it was so long ago now.
Because you have never been afraid to fight for what is right.
Because you could have done anything - anything - with your life and you chose to be a middle school principal for forty-five years.
Because the children who passed through your school - so many with children of their own now - are better people because you did.
Because your custodian was offered the exact same respect as your school psychologist.
Because you gave cake to kids in detention - but made them promise not to do it again, whatever it might have been.
Because you were most touched by the children like mine. The ones who needed a little extra.
Or a lot.
Because you set the bar so high.
Because you told me again and again that the sun rose on one side of my head and set on the other.
Because you believed that it was every child's fundamental right to have parents who felt that way about them.
Because you always said, "You'll get it, Jessie. When you have babies of your own, you'll get it."
And I do.
Because at forty years old, I am still no less your baby than you are my daddy.
And because I have no idea what I would do without you.
Happy Father's Day.
I love you so very much.
Jess can be found at Diary of a Mom where she writes about life with her husband Luau* and their beautiful daughters - ten- year-old Katie*, an utterly fabulous typically a-typical fourth grader, and eight- year-old, Brooke*, a loving, talented, hilarious second grader who has autism.
She also runs the Diary of a Mom Facebook page, a warm and supportive community of parents, friends, adults on the autism spectrum and some random people in her life who cared enough to hit 'Like' and probably now wonder what they got themselves into.