Anyone who meets my dad immediately falls in love with him. He is one special person. He grew up in the same town where he still lives today. He and my 2 uncles were raised on a farm by two of the most humble and warm-hearted people on the planet. Nothing is more important to BG than family and God with Auburn football - well, Auburn in general - coming in as a close 3rd.
BG is the quintessential Southern Gentleman. He's a jolly, fun-loving guy who is so conservative he makes Rush Limbaugh look like a hippy. He has been known to call me his 'liberal daughter' which, to anyone who knows me, would seem hilariously inaccurate. Compared to him though, it is absolutely true. In the little corner of the world where I grew up, BG is one of the most respected and loved members of the community, and with good reason. Stranger or old friend, he loves nothing more than to make someone laugh. As long as you don't say 'Roll Tide', after 5-minutes of knowing you, he will consider you a friend. Not long after that, he will dazzle you with his steak-grilling skills and/or his precision on his high-powered complex lawn maintenance system. To call this piece of machinery a lawn mower, would be a gross understatement. It has a steering system that is so complicated, the average person would find themselves spinning in circles on the first attempt at operation. I am convinced it could reach speeds of at least 50 miles per hour though I've only seen him go up to about 30. Sheer genius at work, I tell you. But I digress...
My dad, has travelled the world and has stood in some of the most historic and amazing places in existence, yet his favorite place is simply anywhere his family happens to be - especially if that place happens to be Auburn, Alabama. From the womb, BG has instilled a love of the orange and blue in me and my brothers that runs so deep there was never any question about where we would seek higher learning. My dad spent his life around boys. He has 2 brothers and 2 sons. My mother once told me how I (the only girl for a while) have always been such a mystery to him. True, there is a lot about me that I'm sure has been hard for him to understand, but one thing we could always connect with was Auburn. No matter what - silly little girl, angst-ridden teenager, college co-ed, young professional - we always had Auburn. For my 12th birthday my dad and I went to the Auburn/Georgia Tech game in Atlanta - a real treat for me as I had him all to myself while usually my football knowledge was overshadowed by my all-knowing brothers. I remember a lot about that day, but most of all I just remember how great it was to hang out with my dad. We saw a pretty spectacular game too.
Five years ago today, my dad dropped me off in Chicago and made the long drive back to Alabama. While I was excited and nervous about starting that new chapter in my life, I was heartbroken and terrified to know, for the first time, there would be that many miles between us. I'm sure leaving his baby girl in a big strange city wasn't a great way to spend his birthday either, but he knew it was something I needed to do. Two years ago, as I was unpacking my boxes in Atlanta once again, I sent him a birthday card and promised that I would never move that far from home again.
BG has always been my hero. He has saved me figuratively and literally more times than I can count. I have never made a major decision without his input. His guidance is a lifeline for me. I don't say it nearly enough, but I love him more than he could possibly ever know. I've recently had some moments that have made me realize just how lucky I am to have such an incredible and loving dad. I know how much he loves me. I know he is proud of me. I know I can always count on him when (not if) I need rescuing. I just hope he knows that I feel the same way about him.
Happy Birthday, Dad! I love you so much.