happy birthday daddy

26 Mar

listening to: the album “alexander” by alexander

my daddy and i have shared many a near death experience. when i was a little 6 year old in quantico, virginia, my daddy caught me when i fell out of a tree while we were apple picking one fall day. two years before that, i was perched on his strong shoulders as he walked through the ocean in panama. i pointed out to two snakes swirling around his feet, which he disregarded, and soon realized those were – in fact – water moccasins. not too long ago, in the summer of 2009, my daddy and i jumped out of a perfectly good airplane together. he looked back at me (he was the first one out) and asked, “are you all right?” and i responded “yes, just please don’t get hurt.” i didn’t want my mommy to blame me if i broke her husband on one of my endeavors. 

my daddy has taught me to be fearless. although, often he has been far away geographically due to an interesting slew of employers, the lessons that he taught me growing up have been some of the guiding principles that have made me who i am. but this fearlessness was disguised in discipline and rules. it only took me many years and much time to ponder over it to understand the lessons which he had taught me. 

i had a very strict curfew growing up. i didn’t watch pg-13 movies until i was thirteen. i was instructed to go over multiplication tables in my head when falling asleep. i had a whole college plan, and had already contacted the air force academy by the fifth grade. if i got a 98% on a paper, i was quizzed on where the other 2% went. i addressed my daddy as “sir” and in a complete sentence. 

simply put, i had my shit together as a child. 

once i had mastered the basics of being a good cale child, i was finally released gradually to be fearless with this great confidence i had built in myself. flying transcontinental from europe to america with no adult supervision? no problem. my parents had faith i could figure it out. i was free to make my own relationships and i was taught to deal in pros and cons. when i failed and my heart was broken, i was never mocked, i was only sympathized with. and always the guiding rule: “call us when you get there” when in doubt, call. 

but my daddy has always taught me to be fearlessly in love, and to trust. growing up, he always said “it’s not that i don’t trust you, it’s that i don’t trust anyone else. i only trust, you, your brother, and your mother.” and i think at some point my daddy began to trust christopher before i did. there was a time over the summer where chris and i stopped talking, and i was heartbroken. later my daddy revealed, “i never gave up on him, you know, i knew what you and him have wouldn’t just end.” 

my daddy is fearless because he has always done what he needed to do to make our family work. whether that was deploy, or take the harder job, or take the job further away – i’ve finally come to realize it was out of love for our family.

with such love in my life, my daddy (and of course, mommy) have brought me into a world where i expect that love out of others and will not settle until it is found. 

i love you daddy, and happy happy birthday.
i wish i could be with you today, but i will some day soon.

xoxo,
your daughter

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2 Responses to “happy birthday daddy”

  1. Marilyn Niernberger March 30, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

    Annie, what a wonderful birthday message for your father.!! You have two parents that love you more than you will ever know!!!! And a brother that loves you very much. And 4 grandparents, one is watching you from a far better place and he loved you sooo much ! Then there is a special person that I hear loves you too. Thanks for calling. It was a special surprise. Gram

  2. Kelley April 4, 2013 at 11:12 am #

    Oh I love this. My dad always asked us, “What did you miss?” whenever we got less than a 100 on anything too. There were plenty of rules in our house growing up – but there was a ton of fun and love there too. It definitely makes sense that someone as happy and hard-working and smart as you would have such an awesome set of parents who have backed you from the start. And you guys got to jump together too? Just awesome.

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