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Allison Althoff
Allison Althoff
Natalie Lederhouse
Natalie Lederhouse

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March 28, 2011

Still a Daughter

Even now, there are things I need to hear from my dad.

I spent last week at the beach in Destin, Florida, with my family. Five days of sitting on a beach chair in the sun, watching my nieces and littlest sister (and husband and brother-in-law) play in the sand and tide. I made some progress in one of the novels I took, but most of my books stayed in my backpack. The week was a time for catching up with my dad and his wife and daughters, for eating fresh seafood, for throwing the Frisbee on occasion, for seeing the rushing and retreating expanse my father has made.

My parents are divorced, like half the rest of America, and the process of their dissolution took about nine years. I had erratic and often intensely negative feelings for and about my dad throughout my high school and college years; those feelings have mellowed out, and as adults we get along nicely. We live 1,200 miles apart and don’t see each other often, but I’m always glad to visit my dad when I can. This beach trip was his and his wife’s initiative, and they provided a big place for their family and me and my siblings to meet up and spend some time together.

It’s easy to come away from any family time analyzing dynamics. My mind is usually wrought with thoughts about my interactions with everyone, and everyone’s interactions with one another, and was I satisfied with our time together, and did I fall into old birth order roles with my siblings, and was I more lonely than I thought I would be. And did I love well.

This trip felt different. I think there was potential for all of those internal questions—my default is to over-process—but at the week’s end my dad said something to me that left my mind quiet and full of one thought.

At the end of a perfect day of hunting for shells with the little girls, making a sleeping dragon sand sculpture, and laughing hard with my sister and dad about unintentionally funny things we’ve heard people say, we had to pack up the car and pass around goodbye hugs. My dad hugged and kissed me. His arms are still so strong and tight; no one’s hugs feel like his. He told me again how thankful he was that we could be there, and he told me he was so proud of me.

As chicken-soup-for-the-soul-ish this may sound, my 29-year-old self was filled. I think I can guess that my dad’s been proud of me; I’m at least sure he’s not disappointed in who I am or what I’ve done with my life. But hearing him say it to me—despite all our past and its residue, despite my independence from him, despite the deeply affirming relationship I have with my husband—it was like I’ve needed nothing else.

Related Tags: family, love, relationship


Thanks for this. My Dad is 78 and not doing well. He's a minister of 60 years. I know he's always loved me and been proud of me but in every conversation I find myself looking for his approval. Not that I don't think it's there, but just because I need to hear it one more time.

Thank you for this beautiful article. My dad just recently told me he was proud of me (I'm 36) and it made me cry and feel good all at the same time. I know that he loves me and he says so, but to hear him say "I'm proud of you" was one of the best things to hear. I don't know why...it just was.

This really touched me! It made me realize how much this would have meant to me,had I heard the same words from my dad who has been deceased for 3 years now. Amazing how our earthly fathers have such a place of importance in our lives. The sorrow I feel over not having received those words of affirmation draw me ever closer to my Heavenly Father and His words of love as His daughter. May all without having received, be filled to the brim with His Love so as not be continue in wounded behavior.

Aren't dads amazing? Mine is. I know that this is not the case for so many people and I continue to thank God that He so blessed me with this man. He will be 88 this month and I was able visit him recently, spending some time - just him and me. How precious that time was. I'm drawn to ask him questions and then just sit back and listen. I want all his memories to become words so that I can store them in my heart for the day he is called home and I won't hear them anymore.

He's given all of his children his uncondiional love and so much more than that. He gave us the undeniable knowledge that he loved mom. He never had to say it, although he did. He showed us his love for her each and every day of their lives together, and in doing so taught us how to build and sustain our own marriages.

But his greatest gift is showing us how to live our lives in service to God and to others. At 87 he still serves others and is a witness for all who know him. There is a song untitled "Find Us Faithful". The words include "Let us run the race not only for the prize; but as those who've gone before us, let us leave to those behind us, the heritage of faithfulness passed on through godly lives. May the fire of our devotion light their way. May the footprints that we leave, lead them to believe. And the lives we live insire them to obey. Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful." We have.

We all are who we are because of the many influences we have had in our lives, good or bad. My dad's influence makes me a better person because as I am a part of him, he will always be a part of me. I look for that part of him that is now me and try to build on that faithfulness, knowing that even in my everyday failures I am still precious in his sight - as we are all precious in our heavenly Father's sight.

Thank you for your article. It made me take some time to express my feelings for my dad. As you said hearing those words from your dad "was like I’ve needed nothing else" - it got me to thinking that maybe my dad needs to hear those words from me. I think I'll give him a call today.

veryday of my life i have longed to hear my dad say those words to me..i hope and pray that i will be able to hear them before any of us departs from this earth. i even tried giving excuses for him when i felt so disappointed after i had done alot of things to please him but there is still a big void that awaits for those words to ring in my ears. i truly believe God will give me a chance to witness this.thank you very much for this article.

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