My father was born 68 years ago today in what is still listed as one of the top 5 worst blizzards in our state’s history. The snow-covered roads blocked the way to the hospital, so this 10-pound baby boy, the first child of my young grandmother, was delivered by an aunt in the living room of his parent’s home. My Dad knows how to make how an entrance.

He grew up rambunctious on a small dairy farm where he tormented his three sisters and helped build his childhood home using massive stones from a nearby creek. He fought in the Vietnam War, went to the infamous Monterey Pop Festival, and traveled everywhere from Singapore to Germany. He lived in California for years after the war before returning to his hometown to put himself through college.

My Dad is an entrepreneur from the bottom of his toes to the top of his head. He built multiple businesses from scratch using nothing but sheer will and trust in his word. He is the definition of determination, the embodiment of hard work. He is as tough as nails. I am in awe of his ability to make educated leaps of faith and take the chances necessary to make his dreams come true.

As a kid, my Dad read me Mark Twain and snuck me into the local horse track on summer nights. Instead of complaining about having four daughters, he gave us the same experiences he would’ve a son. He taught us how to play baseball and shift gears. He took us fishing and go-kart riding. He let me use a chainsaw. He told us we could do anything and then showed us how to do it.

My Dad taught me to stick to your word; like when he made good on a $200 bet to my 9-year-old sister on a game of ping-pong (she had gone quadruple or nothing). He taught me that education was important; like when he would test my sisters and me with the most complex made-up math problems on road trips. He gave me a love for travel, taking me across the country to places like Nashville, Northern California, and New Orleans. But most of all, he made me understand the meaning of family, from when he drove 6 hours to pick me up when I became ill in college, to now, when he is spending his own retirement dedicated to caring for his Alzheimer’s-ridden mother.

Happy Birthday Dad. Words can’t describe how proud I am to be your daughter.