When I was a small child, maybe about 2 or 3 years old, my dad would lay down on the floor, and put me on his stomach. My little face would snuggle in close to his, and he would wrap his big arms around me, and he would start to roll from side to side. As he rolled, this is the song he would sing to me...
"Row, row, row, way up the river,
He would row, row, row,
A hug he'd give her, (he would squeeze me tightly)
Then he'd kiss her once or twice, (he would kiss my cheek)
And she would say..." He would pause, and I would say, giggling, "Some more!" And then, he'd start the song again, after planting many kisses on my little, giggling, cheek.
I don't know how young a person is when they actually retain memories, but I swear I remember doing that with my dad. I remember what he smelled like (Coast with a faint hint of aftershave), I remember how his face felt against mine, (sometimes smooth, sometimes a little scratchy), but most of all I remember how it made me feel to have his arms wrapped tightly around me. I felt safe. I felt loved.
Dad, now, as I row along on this journey of life, the water sometimes calm, sometimes treacherous, I take that feeling with me. I take the values you have instilled in me. I take the lessons you have taught. I take the advice you so often gave (whether I wanted it or not). I take the attributes that you helped shape in me. Mostly, though, I just take that feeling. Knowing, that you will always be there for me when I need you, to give me a hug, or just to listen when I need to talk, and that I can always say "Some more!"
I love you, Dad. Happy Birthday.