Our #girldad

I wore my “Pittsburgh vs all yinz” shirt and an old Packer hat earlier this week on the anniversary of the day my father died.

I took them both for a long, slow run on a beach he had grown to love. Then, my mom and I ate ice cream.

Proud Pennsylvania native and nine-year NFL veteran, my dad was also a #girldad of three daughters. (He was a #boydad too and my brother can tell his stories of their special times.)

My sisters and I knew a father who took us shopping for clothes and snuck us out of tennis camp for ice cream.

My dad picked out my prom dress for me and bought me some of my coolest sweaters. He once took my then baby son Charlie out for an adventure and they returned with a whole wardrobe of upscale maternity clothes they’d purchased for me to wear while I was pregnant with my daughter Katherine. I wore them through two more pregnancies too, and passed them along to my sisters in-law.

He called my sister Jenny his “little honey” and brought her a bra when she needed one for her tennis shirt. He also introduced the Little Honey to musicals when he took her to see A Chorus Line on Broadway (though he did squirm a little through the “bingo bongos” song.)

Dad boycotted the local shopping mall on principle, preferring to spend his money at local stores. So, when my sister Kathy found a Homecoming dress in the mall, he would not breach the entrance. He sat on a bench outside and she talked the store manager into letting her wear her dress out there to show it to him. He approved and gave Kathy the money to pay for it but still felt he had stood his ground. Our dad was a man of high character and soft touch.

He was also a nut. I went for a run one day and Dad spotted me as he drove by with Kathy and Jenny in the car. Everything embarrassed me back then and I gave them a low wave when I spotted them. Dad rolled down the car windows and the three of them sang the chorus of “Barbara Ann” at the top of their lungs as they passed me. I’m sure I rolled my eyes. They whipped around the block and passed me again, singing even louder this time. And, we continued that way down the street, me running and eventually laughing and them circling block after block and belting out that ridiculous song until we all rolled home together.

After I accepted my first real job at the Streator Times-Press, I called my dad to tell him the good news. “Congratulations!” he said. “Streator’s a cute little town.”

“How do you know that?” I asked him.

“I drove down there and checked it out,” he said.

Of course he did, even though he was a busy guy and Streator was a five-hour drive away.

You have to be up for spontaneous adventure to be a #girldad, and patient as well. We #girls can be moody at times and more sensitive than we care to admit.

So, how lucky are we who get to revel in the deep love and apparently unshakable pride of our own #girldads?

Here’s to all of them. And, in a month during which my sisters and I pay even closer attention to our memories of him, here’s to ours.

I don’t have a lot of pictures of me and my dad, who died suddenly in 1993, so I treasure the ones I do have (even though my #girldad picture also includes my brother).
Like this one, from a photo booth. I think you can see the #girldad challenge here. Even as a five-year old I may have been a pinch moody.
This is him with “The Little Honey”, my sister Jenny.
And my favorite picture of the two of them.
Dad and my sister Kathy when she was about 12-years old.
Kathy sent me most of these pictures to use in this particular post, including this one, which is also perfect because my dad and his mom, our beloved Baba Kostelnik, shared a birthday — January 14 — so we like to remember her in January (and always) as well.
I love this Pittsburgh vs All Yinz shirt, which I wear periodically in honor of my Pennsylvania roots. On Wednesday, I took it for a jog on my dad’s favorite beach.