A long time ago, my dad told me a story about his dad (my granddad). My dad had just earned his Eagle Scout award and his church leader was really pushing my dad to earn several extra Palms. My dad was ready to be done with scouting, but didn't really feel like, at fourteen or fifteen, that he could tell this man that. He went home and told his dad how much he didn't want to earn these extra Palms, but felt couldn't say no. My granddad got on the phone and kindly told the leader that my dad wasn't going to be pursuing the extra awards. Not another word was ever said about it.
When my dad told me this story, he said "Sometimes as a kid you just need to feel like your parents will go to bat for you."
I've always known my dad would do the same thing for me and he has, hundreds and hundreds of times. (One specific example comes to mind - we were working on a genetics project for my high school biology project. We'd worked up this really elaborate light switch board with a picture for each family member and a light bulb beneath them. When you pressed the switch for a certain genetic characteristic (say, brown eyes), the light bulb under each person with brown eyes would light up. The night before the project was due, the fuses somehow blew out and it was completely unworkable. Quickly, my dad helped me find clip art for each characteristic and make stickers for each person with colored art for dominant and black and white for recessive. It wasn't as impressive as the light board would have been, but it still looked nice and I still got an A. I was so so glad that my dad was cool under the pressure of an 11:30 p.m. disaster and willing to stay up late with me making the whole thing come together in a different way).
I've always wanted to be like my dad. Nothing pleased me more than being told how much I looked or acted like my dad. I like being interested in the same things he is, developing the same skills he has, making him laugh, or impressing him.
I could make a giant list of all the things my dad has taught me - a love for history, good money management skills, goal setting, doing things the right way, preparing for the future.
But I think the most telling thing about how completely wonderfully awesome my dad is came when, about a year ago, I asked Bart who his biggest role model was. After about half a second of thought, Bart said "Your dad. He is such a success in all parts of his life: career, husband, father, church member."
I love you, Dad. You're my role model too.