Seventeen years ago today, my 12 1/2 year old awkward self put on a pretty (at the time) green velvet (I said pretty at the time) dress, curled my hair way too much, and stood at the front of our church with my parents as they committed the rest of their lives together. They made official what I knew 2 1/2 years earlier, Scott was a part of our family. It’s a day I will never forget. I gained a dad that day.

Biology did not make him my dad. His active love toward me made him my dad.

He was always there. At every event and sport we ever even attempted, he was there with his camera to document (sometimes I wish I had stolen the film from that camera). From soccer games to chorus concerts, to church plays, to school musicals, to school pageants (yes, I was in high school pageants bc no one told me it was a terrible idea). He was there. Every performance. Even if it was the same as the one the day before. He was still there. Cheering us on. Taking horrible pictures of us to remember our awkward middle and high school days. And it didn’t stop after high school. When I was in college and started traveling with a singing group, he was at every performance that was close by. He was there for every graduation; high school, college, grad school. He was there. He was there for my wedding day. When Jud was born, he hopped on a plane (this is a big deal for those who knew him and his hatred of flying). He was there. Loving me like a dad does.

Every December, he would take me Christmas shopping for my mom. We would go fight the insane crowds for hours looking for gifts for mama. Then he would take me to lunch and we would talk and laugh for a couple more hours before we headed home. I looked forward to December every year because of this special time we would get together.

He taught me about football. He taught me to love the Clemson Tigers. When he took me to my first Clemson football game, our tailgate consisted of a bucket of KFC, huddled in his 2-door, hunter green Pontiac grandAM in the pouring rain. He taught me that pouring rain didn’t matter when you loved your team. We were soaked through and my phone was ruined that day, but it was one of my favorite days with him.

He taught me about comic books and the super heroes & villains that made them up. He tried to teach me how to play tennis one very hot July day simply because I thought it might be fun to try out for the tennis team at Hillcrest. I was wrong. He taught me to love writing and the beautiful world it can open in your mind. He taught me to love humor, in everything, even in death. He taught me to love 80s music. While my friends were listening to Mariah Carey and Green Day, I was listening to The Clash and Cyndi Lauper. He taught me that you’re never too old to have your breath taken away by Cinderella’s castle, even if it is the millionth time you’ve seen it. He taught me so much in the 19 1/2 years he was a part of my life and he loved me like a dad loves his daughter.

Mama, I will forever be grateful for the day you said “I do” and I gained a dad. This day will not be forgotten by us because 17 years is just not long enough. Happy Anniversary.