My father is a man.
My father is tough, strong and intimidating.
I guess technically speaking, he's a man's man. He's the 21st century John Wayne, except better. He's tough, strong, masculine, reliable, handsome, humble, etc.
He's the kind of man that every girl should want to marry and every boy should want to be.
Maybe it was high school sports or perhaps his father's influence. Maybe it was working on his farm or in the steel mill. Maybe it was staying fit through 53 years of discipline and hard work. Maybe it was the years of hunting and fishing or the fact that he never shied away from hands-on labor. Maybe that's what made him the man he is (I find all of it impressive), but I have another theory.
I think any boy can bench press (at least) 100 lbs. I think any boy has the capability to work hard. I think any boy can hunt, fish and fight. Girls, too. That's why I think the things that make my dad a man's man are not the things that most men (and women) strive for. He's a man because of the things that most men and women will never accomplish.
I think he's a man because he loves my mom, his wife of 32 years. I think he's a man because he takes her on a date every week. I think he's a man because he leads his family, not selfishly, but with a heart to serve. I think he's a man because he sacrifices his desires on a day-to-day basis to make his family and faith a priority. I think he's a man because he's not afraid of what I think, but challenges me out of a love and care greater than I can imagine. I think he's a man because he raised my brothers, the three greatest young men I have ever known. I think he's a man because I've watched him walk through trials more difficult than I will ever understand. I think he's a man because I've watched him be a son, a nephew, a brother, a husband, a father and a friend. I think he's a man because I watched him smile when his oldest sons got married and I watched him weep when his mom passed away. I think he's a man because he is the man I look up to and respect more than any other and I know him better than anyone else.
My favorite memories include my dad.
I'll never watch "The Parent Trap" (the original, with Hayley Mills) without thinking of him (the dad actually looks and acts like my dad). Our song is "Build me up Buttercup." I used to cry when he would sing it to me. I'll never forget driving to Florida with him and going shopping at Seaside as a little girl. I'll never forget watching "Jaws" with him on the same beach trip (much to the horror of my mom). I'll never forget the books he bought me and how he would keep me up late just to read them to me. I'll never forget the first flowers he ever sent me. I'll never forget the little things, the things that make him the dad I love.
But that's not all. I respect my dad most, not because he loves, cares for and cherishes me, but because he challenges me. He's honest with me. He's not afraid to correct me or adjust me. He doesn't sugar coat anything. Granted, there have been times when I didn't/don't appreciate it, but looking back, I'm more thankful for those moments than any others.
I've watched my dad for the last 21 years and my respect for him has only grown. I love him. Not just on Father's Day, but every day. I wish I could communicate that effectively. I wish he could hear the things I say about him when he's not around. I wish he could see the effect he has had on my life.
What I love the most about my dad is knowing that I don't deserve a dad like him.
His life challenges me to follow his example. I don't hope to be the girl version of John Wayne (there's no way that could turn out attractive), but I hope to follow his example in my life as a daughter, niece, sister, future wife, future mother and friend.
Happy Father's Day, Dad. I love you.
— Lauren Kittrell is a senior in journalism and electronic media. She can be reached at email@example.com.