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Lessons in Driving, Ping-Pong, Courage and Love : Father's Day: A daughter's tribute to the man who taught her independence and morality.

June 16, 1996|ROBIN DOLE | Robin Dole is serving as chief surrogate in campaign appearances and media interviews for her father. She lives in Alexandria, Va

Not many people think of Bob Dole as a father. Our family and friends have had glimpses, but only Dad and I know the bond we have. Only I understand what it means when he smiles at me, when we share a laugh or hold each other up in sorrow. He is a public man in a time when everyone is free to venture a public opinion about his character. But I am his only child, so only I can speak with authority about the kind of father he is.

I wish every child could grow up as I did, with a father she knew would love her without condition, keep her safe from harm, glory in her independence and drive deeply into her soul an unshakable understanding of right and wrong. As a grown woman, I work with troubled teenage girls, and my eyes have opened on a much different world, Each time I hear one of their sad stories, I think about how lucky I am.

Like so many American girls of my generation, my Dad taught me how to drive, play Ping-Pong and do my homework. Those are flashes of memory I will always hold close. But what I will remember most about growing up with Dad are the lessons he taught me that have shaped my life. Today, as a tribute to my father, I want to share some of the things I learned from him:

My father taught me the importance of trust by always being there for me and never letting me down.

He taught me to believe in myself by always believing in me.

Because he always tells the truth, I learned to do the same; to be open and direct, honest with myself and others.

From his determination and inner strength, I drew the confidence to believe that almost anything is possible if I give it my whole heart.

His sense of duty taught me to be serious about my work, while his sense of humor still reminds me not to take myself too seriously.

His compassion and generosity taught me to give of myself freely and to be grateful to those who give to me.

His capacity for forgiveness helped develop in me a sense of fairness and taught me that almost everyone deserves a second chance.

His great courage taught me the importance of strength in success and the nobility of strength in failure.

And he taught me how to love.

Thank you, Dad, for giving me life and teaching me how to live it with a good and open heart. Your painstaking lessons have given me happiness and taught me to find my own fulfillment. I am so proud to be your daughter.

All my love on Father's Day and every day.

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