It was the first date I can remember. He picked me up in his bright blue mustang and we munched on lifesavers on the way to the restaurant. I ordered a happy meal. He took me to see my first movie in a theater: “Beauty and the Beast.”
23 years later—he still takes me on dates, and we still know the words to “Be Our Guest.”
The sound of his heartbeat calmed me more than the steady crashing of the waves against the shore. I had been up all night getting sick, and in the wee hours of the morning he snuck me out of our beach condo for some fresh air. I snuggled against his chest and listened as he spoke words of wonder. “Would you look at that sunrise? Isn’t God amazing?”
22 years later— he still makes me feel safe, and he still appreciates God’s creation with a sense of awe.
He threw the freshly sanded piece of wood over a tree branch and finished knotting the rope. It was time to soar up towards the clouds, knowing his steady arms and boyish grin would be waiting for my descent. He was always just as excited as I was. I flew to the soundtrack of his voice reciting Robert Louis Stevenson, “How do you like to go up in a swing, up in the air so blue? Oh, I do think it’s the pleasant thing ever a child could do!”
19 years later— he still grins at the sight of his kids having fun.
The day finally came when I was too big to fit between his lap and the steering wheel. It felt strange, having to both steer and use the brakes. It felt even stranger not having his calm voice right in my ear, reminding me to use the blinker, praising me for a smooth stop and telling me to go faster, faster! We would drive for hours, just the two of us.
14 years later—he still pushes me to be brave and to believe in my abilities.
I stepped out of the dressing room and wondered if I had made a huge mistake. I definitely didn’t look like a little girl in the dress I had chosen for the dance. His brows shot up and I waited to see a look of panic cross his face. Instead, I saw tears form in his eyes. He told me I was stunning, and that I looked just like my mother did when she was my age.
11 years later—he still tells me I’m beautiful.
After 27 years of raising children, he was about to become an empty-nester alongside his wife of 31 years. But before he said goodbye, he spent hours in my dorm room hammering together a shelving unit for above my bed. He made a special shelf for my alarm clock and decided I needed a built-in reading lamp, too.
9 years later—he still uses his handyman skills to bless me, whether he’s changing lightbulbs, hanging mirrors or inspecting plumbing.
My white dress swayed back and forth as we danced cheek to cheek. I breathed in the smell of his shaving cream and rested against the arms that had held me since birth. I wondered what it would be like to give my heart to another man.
6 years later—who am I kidding…he still has a big piece of my heart.
I can think of a hundred more memories, and a hundred more ways that my dad is still my daddy, and I’m still his little girl—his sunshine. I have a long list of nicknames, but sunshine has always been my favorite. I love to see it written on my birthday cards and to hear his delighted voice exclaim, “well hey, sunshine!” when I call him at work. Most of all, I love that I’ve never had to be anyone but me around my dad. Just like our Father in heaven loves us simply because we are His children, my dad loves me simply because I am his.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1 (NIV)
Laura Rennie lives in Maryland with her hilarious husband and constantly shedding dog. She loves reading, writing and playing word games. Her greatest desire is to share Jesus through her words and actions as she learns how to be a better wife, daughter, sister and friend.