“Daddy, will you teach me how to fly?” I remember a younger Olivia saying maybe eleven years ago.
“Tomorrow,” Daddy humored me, “Tomorrow I’ll teach you how to fly.”
The next day, Daddy didn’t teach me how to fly. Nor did I remember he was supposed to. The weeks, months, years after that, I’d remember and pester him about it. He’d laugh.
This was my first and possibly most important lesson in independence and perseverance, though I was too little to recognize it. Granted, at the time I wanted to literally fly and disturb the birds, but now I see it all a little differently. See, I don’t tend to identify with my father very closely. Daddy’s the kind of guy that could live through the biggest tragedies you can imagine and still keep the no-nonsense mentality that there was no excuse for him not to succeed and move forward. Daddy’s a doer; he has that rare combination of brilliance and artistic talent and doesn’t hesitate to use every last ounce of it. Daddy laughs at “the sky is the limit” and does what he dreams. The dreams don’t ever seem to stop growing, either. You might not even know it unless you knew him as well as I do, because he exemplifies what it means to be humble and is always laughing and joking with anyone he meets. Not enough of us have that way about ourselves. I certainly didn’t. That’s what makes him so admirable and inspiring. That’s what’d make a seven-year-old Olivia believe he could teach someone to fly. Daddy taught me that if I wanted to do something as pretentious as flying I’d have to work for it, no shortcuts, and I’d get there when I’d earned it. Although the clash between my lazy, dependent ways and his “hard work makes anything possible” lifestyle drives me crazy sometimes, I know I wouldn’t be as successful as I’ve been without the will to persevere he instilled in me. If nothing else, Daddy epitomizes what it means to dream big and work hard. I see how much he’s done, how much he’s experienced, and how much will he still has in him and am in awe. I have even more respect for him over the way he still gushes over my brothers’ and my littlest feats and make us feel as accomplished as he is. It’s what makes him one of those rare people whose approval or adulation really matters. It’s what makes me beam with pride to tell him about the A I got in math or the new song I learned on guitar. It’s what makes me so satisfied when I see him bobbing his head to my music (because if anyone knows music, it’s Daddy) and so hopeful when I present my own hard work. It’s what makes me eager to succeed in all aspects of life on my own, just as he had. I couldn’t have a goal bigger than living up to my Daddy, but I’m sure he could think of one. That’s who he is. That’s who I aim to be. Never stopping progress, always dreaming, and never letting my dreams be only dreams. I may not ever be airborne, but Daddy taught me how to fly.
I love you, Daddy. More than words can express. (Even though you lied about flying.)