It has been a month since I've written and two months since I have truly written. To say its been a whirlwind since April is a severe understatement. I want to recap the events leading up to Justify's Triple Crown victory in a way that does all that it entailed justice, so I have been at a loss for where to start.
Today it came to me. The best way to honor Justify's accomplishment is to start by writing about the man who gave me my love of horses and made my connection to Justify possible: my Dad.
My Dad is one of the best people I know. It's not just me that thinks so either. It has been so lovely working at Churchill and having people come up to me and let me know just how great he is. Almost any situation where someone knows him, its the same story. And I love it.
My sister and I inherited our love of terrible puns, dirty jokes, and animals from him. We also inherited his stubbornness, need to make people laugh, insatiable curiosity and (he'll kill me for saying this) his tender heart. The man loves to help people and tries to help when he sees a person or animal in need.
I, solely, inherited his hereditary hearing issues and whatever the opposite of resting bitch face is. My friends can attest that somehow I always end up in long heart to hearts with random strangers telling me all about their life. My sister chastised me in Vegas because I couldn't stop answering the old woman next to me who repeatedly asked me a gazillion questions and asked me to google things. I get it honestly and from both parents - I cannot tell you how many times a dinner with my mom and dad has been derailed because one of the three of us ends up conversing about a random topic with a stranger. Sigh.
My Dad is insanely generous, with a huge heart. He has always been a rock-star dad, showing up at swim meets (which lets face it is basically parent torture) and whistling from the side. He is always supportive of us and listens. He is my sounding board, the person I always ask advice. In the past year, he has advised me in so many different aspects of life and is a huge factor in the personal journey I've had. He is always kind, but honest. Oh so honest. I've leaned on both my parents this past year in so many ways and both are unfailingly in my corner.
My dad has allowed my sister and I to grow up with the "guard rails" as he likes to call it: he's not here to force a direction, just to make sure we don't crash off the road we choose. Sometimes we have to back up and turn around, but those guard rails are there. I think it is because of this that I have always been annoyingly optimistic and delusionally confident. I know I can make the jump and try something because I've got DaddyShirc as backup, keeping me within the rails. And trust me, I am FULLY AWARE of how lucky I am and struggle with ways to show him gratitude. So, thank you Dad for allowing me to become the person I want to be. I am still changing and growing and because of you, I know that I'm on the right path.
He is fond of saying he is, "better than he deserves" when people ask him how he is - but it isn't true. He deserves everything that comes his way, and that is why I am so in awe of the past few month's chain of events. We grew up with racehorses (thanks to him), and so many of my fondest memories are related to horse racing. From the tall corn maze outside Ellis Park to the stops at the Florence Mall Y'all for beanie babies en route to Turfway, we loved it all.
What makes Justify's Triple Crown win so sweet is how much it means to my dad. The man maxed out his first credit card to get the cash advance to put down for his share of his first horse. And now he owns part of a TRIPLE CROWN WINNER. He credits this to Jack Wolf and Starlight Racing, not himself, saying he's lucky to have gotten in the partnership.
This picture. It sums up a lot about him. Susie took it of him in 2013. The first thing it shows is his love of a dirty joke, as it was his idea to fill in the blank under "Have sex on the 50 yard line at Papa John's Stadium." But more importantly it shows just how un-selfish he is. He doesn't say he wants to win the triple crown. He specifies with his daughter. (Little did Susie know it would be me that was in attendance.. ;). He truly embodies the idea of sharing is caring.
This tendency to always think of others is one of the things I admire most greatly about my dad. He is constantly thinking of others, even when thinking of himself! He has worked hard his entire life to ensure that my mom, sister, and I are always taken care of and loved AND included many friends, family, and strangers in this orbit of love.
Happy Father's Day to DaddyShirc, the kindest man I know with the most wicked sense of humor! Thank you for letting me be your daughter! To steal your phrase, I hit the Dad lottery!