This is for special dads everywhere with children who can not tell them just how much they are loved, but especially my husband Bruce, who has been the best father possible for Shaina. Shaina was born with developmental disabilities of unknown origin, and at the age of 35, is non-verbal and fully dependent on us for daily living.
If she could speak, it would go something like this: “Thank you for never doubting your call to be my dad, especially when you learned that our lives would be an uphill battle with physical and mental challenges all along the way.
“Thank you for treating me as just another one of the kids, for not leaving me behind for family vacations and day trips (even when Mom suggested it would be best), and for battling with me to do things that I thought were too scary or too loud. Because of you, I have had a full and exciting (sometimes too exciting for me) life.
“Thank you for every day, when you help me bathe, wash my hair, pick out my clothes (even when Mom doesn’t approve of our choices), brush my hair and teeth, find matching socks (sometimes) and get my shoes on the right feet (most of the time). For learning about hair products, nail polish, bra fittings, periods, cramps and mood swings. (That’s been interesting, huh?)
“Thank you for giving me a helping hand to get down off the curb, up the stairs, into and out of bed. And out of Mom’s hair. For cutting my meat, filling my plate at buffets and cleaning up my mess when I suddenly decide I am full.
“Thank you for the big things: For bringing me home from the hospital and ‘just loving me’ like the doctor suggested (and then some), for choosing schools, and for advocating for me when those schools didn’t necessarily have my best interest at heart. And when I got older, thank you for choosing a place for me to work and a group home to live, and for letting me come home just months later when I made it clear I hated it. Thank you for making medical care choices and for being there through so many tests and treatments. And for counting out my pills faithfully every night and making sure I take them, even when I am feeling contrary.
“Thank you for your patience in oh-so-many ways. Like waiting with me in-line even while I whine and throw a fit. Or when I have freaked out in heavy traffic, shrieking at drivers who get in our way when my brain says we should just barrel through. Or when I have had a meltdown when you made a U-turn. And when I steal quarters from your pockets for the pop machines. Sorry about the collector’s coins that one time.
“Thank you for laughing at my silliness when you try to snuggle with me on the couch, and for letting me have the remote so I can watch a marathon of America’s Funniest Videos. Or Cops. Or Wipe Out. Although, you have to admit, Wipe Out cracks you up almost as much as it does me. I just wish that you had greater appreciation for Dora and Barney (and Jerry Springer), but that just reminds me to thank you, too, for forcing me sometimes to compromise.
“I will probably kiss you on the shoulder sometime today. Be ready for it; you know I never linger for those extreme displays of affection.
“All my love (except that reserved for pop, reams of notebook paper and library books).”
— Your daughter Shaina