Somehow, I got lucky and am surrounded by amazing dads. They are everywhere I turn and I am so fortunate.
My Grandpa Peters was (and will always be) one of my very favorite people. He came from nothing (like cardboard in the bottom of his shoes to keep the rain out, eating lard sandwiches for dinner, kind of nothing) and was, simply put, an amazing man. He was a devoted husband and father and the world's best grandfather. He was a World War II Veteran who taught me the importance of paying attention to the news, going for walks, staying active and independent, the benefits of a daily nap, and leaving your waitress a good tip. He would strike up conversations with anyone from a janitor to the president, and treated everyone equally. I miss him every minute of every single day.
I could not have dreamed up a better father for my daughters, Maya and Charley. My husband Troy has patience (that I lack) for teaching them all kinds of things. He will play with them for hours: Legos, Barbies, running around the yard, teaching them how to fish, and always makes them giggle. The unconditional love he and the girls give each other often stops me in my tracks.
I have watched my brother Dan turn into an extraordinary dad. He spends countless hours with his 3 kiddos and still manages to do things like mow the grass. How does he do that?! Maya and her "Unca Dan" have always been extremely close, and they love each other terribly.
I have a wonderful father-in-law, Charlie. He and I love to sit around and talk about John Lennon and I never get tired of hearing his stories. From day one, he has made me feel welcome and loved.
My brothers-in-law - Danny, Todd and Sam - are all hands-on, fun dads to their kiddos as well, and great uncles to my daughters.
But my very favorite dad is my own. It is no exaggeration when I say that to know Larry Etter is to love him. He is kind and genuine and so very funny.
Growing up, he was at every band concert (even the torturously painful middle school ones), every musical performance, arts night, Girl Scout dinner - everything. He would play Barbies and have tea parties and taught me how to ride a bike.
He's been writing for years which is where I get my love of writing from. He covers high school sports (football, baseball and basketball), and when I was young, I would go with him to the games. It was so exciting to sit up in the press box (later, he would wave at me from up there while I was on the field in the marching band) or on the sidelines and see the action up close. I got to help him with stats, so I not only enjoyed the games, but actually understood them. He's a huge Packers fan, and I'm a Saints fan, but during football season we will watch the games and call/email/text each other to show our support. We watch the games the same way: hopping up and down, gripping the closest armrest, and most likely yelling. We are, what you might call...enthusiastic.
As wonderful of a father as Dad has always been, he is an even better grandfather. His grandchildren - Ely, Maya, Clay, Charley and Naomi - call him "JoJo" and they positively adore him. He takes them fishing, reads them stories, builds block towers, turns himself into Optimus Prime's biggest foe in a game of Transformers, changes diapers, goes for walks and gives his best Cookie Monster impression at a moment's notice.
Surrounded by all of these wonderful fathers...how did I get so lucky? I am appreciative every day, but on Father's Day, I am the most grateful girl in the world.