Despite his regimented manner, there was so much depth to your father's character. He had a mind for war strategy but drew angels bowed in prayer. He spent hours sculpting a taut body, even starting his days in Iraq in a gym at 5 a.m., but he loved my more than-ample curves and had the softest skin I have ever touched. He gave away copies of his art to soldiers he respected but would shout his throat raw when they made mistakes in training that could cost them their lives in combat. "When he yelled, you moved," one of the officers he served with said in a eulogy at his funeral. "Because he only yelled when there was good reason."

This tough guy was the same man who liked to feed me champagne, popcorn, and chocolate in bed. The man who loved you so dearly that during the two weeks he had with you that August—the only two weeks—he barely slept. He preferred to spend that too brief time dancing around with you in his arms, taking you to the bookstore for story time, and simply watching you sleep. He rarely discussed his personal life at work, but after he died his soldiers said that they knew that when he was "working" in his office, he was often gazing at pictures of us.

His imposing presence was really a mask for his shyness. Simple things brought him pleasure: drawing pictures of me, starting the day in prayer, summer rainstorms.

Sometimes you get lucky and catch a rainbow.

FROM: Unconventional, Unforgettable Dads
Published on April 13, 2009


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