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I had the blessing of my father in my life until I was 14, just about to enter 10th grade. That summer he suffered a sudden fatal heart attack. I’ve now lived many more years without than with him, but recently I’ve been writing down memories of life with him. What I remember most is that he loved generously. He showered us with bear hugs and noisy kisses, and I recall hearing “I love you” more frequently than any other sentence.

My earliest memory of him is from a long road trip when I was about 3 years old. (Were there ever any short road trips?) We were driving from Maryland to Florida, which was easily 20 hours on the road, plus stops for three little girls.

As the trip dragged on, I became squirmy and fussy. Daddy’s policy was to stop as little as possible, but my toddler self didn’t care. I began to kick my legs and whimper, “Daddy…Daddy…”

“What is it?” he finally asked, eyeing me in the rearview mirror.

“Daddy, I–I want a kiss!” I blurted out desperately.

I believe it was Daddy’s finest moment when he pulled our brown station wagon over to the shoulder of the interstate, climbed out of the car, and came around to my side. Stooping down to my carseat, he gave me a gentle kiss.

Then without a word, he walked back around the car, slid in behind the wheel, and eased the station wagon back onto the highway.

I remember little else from that day but this: my daddy loved me enough to stop the car.

Photo credit: Tyler Nix on Unsplash