With apologies to my dear husband of almost 14 years, I’ve chosen to dedicate my Valentine’s love story to my father.
To be clear: I love my husband. He’s the man who still finds ways to surprise me with gifts big and small, utterly practical (ah, that blender) or beautifully novel. After nearly two decades together, he continues to fascinate me, revealing endearing truths about himself (like a hidden talent for juggling I uncovered year nine) that keep me wanting to discover even more. Best of all, our boys ages 4 and 9—brilliant and intuitive creatures that they are—are convinced he is made of magic. And they would surely know.
But I would not have attracted my husband were it not for my father. My father J. David Smith showed me what love is and what kind of love I deserve.
At 6 foot 4 inches tall, he was an imposing figure to many. But to me, my mother, my sister and all who knew him, he was simply “love.” He loved us to his core, and he showed it every second—on occasions grand and quiet. When I was little, maybe 6 or 7, he bought me a dress that he had picked out himself. It was blue and white and long with ruffles on the bodice and hem. Verygirly. And a bit too “Little House on the Prairie.” What I remember, as clearly as if it were yesterday, is that he had so lovingly and thoughtfully chosen it for me. A basketball star in high school and college, a man like him might rather be buying sneakers and fishing poles for sons. But he showed me that day—and every moment before and after—that his little girl deserved nothing less than the investment of his full heart and soul.
I got the fishing pole too, some years later (we grew up in Minnesota, the “land of 10,000 lakes” after all). And with it we would spend hours on the lake, just Dad and me, catching few, if any, fish but capturing memories and lessons that would stay with me forever. Memories and lessons that instilled in me—even after he had passed away—that one day when I met someone who admired my smarts and spoke proudly of me to his friends and would invest his heart and soul to give me the very best of himself, that that’s who I deserve to walk through the rest of my life with.
— Kelly Smith Killian
Kelly is a writer and editor who lives outside Chicago with her husband and children. Kelly has written for many publications including Martha Stewart and Four Seasons Wedding magazine. For more information about Kelly visit her profile here.