To those who know my dad through his work, he is a professional, talented, and all-around classy estate planning attorney. The business he started more than 20 years ago has grown into a successful and renowned law firm. And as a result, attorneys across the country seek out his advice, he gets interviewed in national magazines, and clients travel from around the Midwest (and sometimes even from further away than that) to meet with him. He’s apparently very good at what he does.
As his daughter, however, I was fairly clueless about my dad’s law success until relatively recently. And when I would meet clients or colleagues who would rave about my father’s professionalism, attention to detail, and general attorney-esque skills, I would silently wonder if they had mistaken him for someone else. Because when I think of my dad, I don’t picture a suit and tie, a fancy website, or a law degree. No, I come up with an entirely different set of associations.
To start, despite all his apparent professionalism, my dad (or Papa, as we call him) is one of the funniest people—if not, the funniest person—I know.
… I rest my case.
Although that’s a recent picture, my dad’s silliness dates back really far—and even has a competitive streak. This became especially apparent whenever my sisters and I convinced him to play “Pretty, Pretty Princess” with us. In case you’re not familiar with classic children’s board games of the 90s, the goal is to amass the most matching-colored plastic jewelry (minus the evil black ring) and wear the fancy plastic crown. My dad succeeded on a regular basis, becoming the prettiest princess of us all:
My dad also has a bad habit of making up words… or entire languages. “Krullspeak”, as we’ve come to call it, is an odd conglomeration of grammatically incorrect German, words spoken backwards, and entirely made-up vocabulary. When we joke about creating an unofficial dictionary to help translate for potential spouses or future posterity, we’re actually kind of serious. (For instance, when a friend looked at my family’s group text message thread, she needed my help to decipher it.) The German aspect can be especially dangerous. Poor Rascal, unaware that my dad’s version of German couldn’t be trusted, completely confused (and earned the pity of) her friends in Hamburg while visiting during high school. Apparently, “Flieg” doesn’t really translate to “waffle.”
And as if his linguistic and “pretty, pretty princess” skills aren’t enough, my dad is also incredibly clever. As a kid, I experienced this in many positive—and occasionally less-than-positive—ways. Our rhyming competitions were among the more rewarding. Most days, my dad would drive my sisters and me to school on his way to work. And oftentimes during that twenty-plus minute commute, we would have unofficial rhyming battles to come up with the most rhyming sentences in a row. My quick wit (and terribly cheesy poetry) comes from him.
That said, his cleverness wasn’t always beneficial. For example, when we were younger, my sisters and I were obsessed with 101 Dalmatians (I think I dressed up as Penny for 4 Halloweens in a row). And so we often begged my dad to play with us by pretending to be Cruella DeVille. After he had chased us, shrieking, up the stairs and we had taken refuge in a closet, he would then disappear. We stayed in hiding, waiting for him to find us…. but he never did. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, I snuck downstairs and peeked around the corner, only to see my dad in front of the TV enjoying a beer. Now that’s some clever babysitting.
But more than all his silliness, cleverness, and his “pretty, pretty princess” skills, I appreciate the fact that my dad is, simply put, a wonderful dad. He not only does the fun “dad things”, like teaching us to fish and drive stick shift, but he has taken such wonderful care of us behind the scenes, working long hours, sacrificing his own desires, and putting our needs before his own. A servant-leader in every sense, he has gone above and beyond the call of duty to make sure my sisters and I have education, opportunities, and everything we could need. For instance, although we didn’t have much money when I was a kid and he was busy with work, my dad still made the time to take us each out on “dates”, even if it was only to the grocery store to get a free cookie and to ride the mechanical horse at the entrance. My dad has taught me how to work hard, to treat all people with dignity, and to always give my all. I’m the person I am today because of my Papa, and I love him more than he could ever know.
Which reminds me, today is his birthday. I should probably get him a gift. Hmmm… maybe he’d like a new plastic crown? 😉