Eleven years ago today, I started the morning as Jenna Rochelle Brignac. By the afternoon, I was Jenna Rochelle Sauber. I didn’t get married (I was in high school), and I didn’t enter the witness protection program.
I gained my independence, this day before our country’s Independence Day. I had one of my first big steps in a journey to Be Fearless — I chose to make legal a relationship that had started about 11 years before, when my mom married the man who had become my father in every sense of the word.
In my family, we call it my “other” birthday, our anniversary, and my day of independence. We used to celebrate it with cookie cake. Today, I just call my dad, who lives on the other coast, and we talk, and we smile over the phone at this wonderful bond we’ve worked hard to create over the last 22 years.
Whether you are recognizing your birth father, stepfather, stand-in father, grandfather, adopted father, or other type of father figure, here is to all of the dads and daughters out there — Happy Father’s Day.
My dad came into my life when I was five years old, living with my mom in Louisiana. At first, I called him by his first name, and then once we had been a family for a year or so, I tentatively, and then confidently, began calling him Dad. 21 years later, it’s almost like I never lived without him…because he’s always there.
In a couple weeks, I’ll be blogging about a special day that we celebrate, just me and my Dad, that millions of others aren’t sharing as their day, so stay tuned for that. But today, today is just about honoring my Dad for who he is, just as you all are doing the same for your fathers. So here it is:
My dad makes the best pancakes. For years, even now when I visit my parents at home, I look forward to weekend pancakes, filled with bananas or apples or some other secret ingredient. It’s home to me. So is his coffee, which now he roasts on his own, and makes by the cup.
My dad can fix anything. I don’t mean Bob Vila-style, with toilets and cars, and big household appliances. But he sure can MacGyver his way into a last-minute Halloween costume, school project, or makeshift something or other. Oh, and he can style and braid hair, which helped for many years of school, and later on for homecoming dances.
My dad has a sense of humor. Sometimes as a kid, I would get razzed by him and wouldn’t take it well, but over the years I learned to love it. My mom and I think we’re dealing with a 10-year-old at times.
My dad is a professional. Just when you think he can’t be any sillier, Dad comes out with his supreme business sense, intelligence, and highly disciplined sense of self.
My dad will race me to the car in the parking lot, and still beat me. He still drives like Mario Andretti, sings like Bing Crosby, and acts true to himself in every way. He takes amazing photos, gives really good hugs, and so often, knows what I’m thinking before I say it…even on the phone. Dad says “farm out” and “cool beans” and still calls me Squirt and macaroni-head. He still calls Mom sweetie, and our dogs have always considered him their best friend. There’s nothing like hearing that my dad is proud of me, and when I say goodbye at the airport, I still want to run right back to him and hug him again and never leave.
Dad is all of these things and more. And I’m proud of him.
Thank you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day. Wish I was having pancakes with you this morning.