Six Years Ago We Lost Robin Williams, Beloved Entertainer and Dad

Robin Williams In-Memoriam
(HBO/Sonya Sones;Sonya Sones;Instagram/Zelda Williams)

August 11, 2014 was a devastating day. In fact, many of us probably remember where we were when we found out Robin Williams had died. He was a comedy legend, a world-class actor, and a father and friend with an intense love for others. Of course, these famous characteristics were not enough to overcome the intense physical and emotional distress that plagued him later in life.

Now, five years after his passing, Robin’s kids are reflecting on precious interactions with their father and doing their best to honor his legacy while combating the stigma surrounding mental illness.

“Being Robin Williams’ son was wonderful in so many ways [but] having to share him with the world was hard at times,” Zachary Williams said in a recent interview with Good Morning Britain. “When he was having challenges and going through certain things it was heartbreaking because he still went out and wanted to share his feelings of laughter and humor with the world.”

Robin and Zachary Williams
(Getty/ Shawn Ehlers)

In 2013, Robin began experiencing a wide variety of serious physical ailments that were seemingly unconnected. He had trouble seeing and sleeping, constantly suffered indigestion and cramps, and had symptoms of cogwheel rigidity, where a limb would randomly stop itself at certain fixed points in its range of motion.

“It was like this endless parade of symptoms, and not all of them would raise their head at once,” Robin’s wife, Susan, said. “It was like playing whack-a-mole. Which symptom is it this month? I thought, is my husband a hypochondriac? We’re chasing it and there’s no answers, and by now we’d tried everything.”

For nearly a year, his health continued to deteriorate, worsening his already substantial levels of anxiety and depression. Finally, on May 28, 2014, Robin and Susan received the first of two explanations as to his strange combination of varying symptoms: Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative disorder that attacks the central nervous system, impairing motor functions and cognition until it eventually takes the victim’s life.

Devastated and terrified, Robin shared the news with his children and others who were closest to him

“I never heard him afraid like that before,” recalled long-time friend and fellow comedian, Billy Crystal. “This was the boldest comedian I ever met—the boldest artist I ever met. But this was just a scared man.”

Robin Williams and Billy Crystal
(Getty/E. Charbonneau)

Robin’s kids began reaching out more often to provide all the love and support they could, in whichever ways possible. Zak still remembers his sense of helplessness trying to diminish his father’s suffering during this time.

“It was really difficult to see someone suffering so silently,” Zak said. “But I think that there were a series of things that stacked, that led to an environment that he felt was one of pain, internal anguish, and one that he couldn’t get out of. And the challenge in engaging with him when he was in that mindset was that he could be soothed, but it’s really hard when you then go back into an environment of isolation. Isolation is not good for Dad and people like him. It’s actually terrible.”

As the disease ran its course, Robin became more and more reclusive. The work and creative outlets that used to bring him so much joy—acting and stand-up comedy—seemed unattainable now. Robin simply didn’t think he was capable of being funny anymore.

On an evening in early August, when Susan was away, Robin visited Zak in San Francisco. He acted as a stranger in his son’s home, walking on eggshells the entire time as if he was somehow intruding. When he eventually got up to leave, Zak asked what it would take to make him stay overnight—would he have to tie him up and throw a bag over him?

“Well, that was a joke,” Zak said in an interview with Vanity Fair with a bittersweet laugh. “To be clear, that was a joke. But we didn’t want someone who seemed like he was in so much anguish to leave. We wanted him to stay with us. We wanted to take care of him.”

Mere days later after returning home, on July 11, 2014, Robin was found dead in his bedroom.

“Sharing the grieving process with the world was hard. At times it was hard to differentiate what involved private grieving, and experiencing that loss, versus public grieving and experiencing that type of community interaction and communicating. I wasn’t prepared,” Zak said. “It was challenging. But I’m very grateful for the outpouring of love and support that continued… Here we are almost five years later. I feel the massive impact and difference he made.”

Zak now serves as a board member for Bring Change To Mind, an organization with the goal of fighting the stigma and discrimination that surrounds mental illness.

According to the Bring Change To Mind website, they “create multimedia campaigns, curate storytelling movements, and develop youth programs to encourage a diverse cultural conversation around mental health.”

 

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“There’s no education in place to tell you how to deal with this. To balance how to grieve privately with your family and then also to have to grieve publicly. While it was nice to be heard, I was spending time on the outer layer instead of on the inside. It wasn’t just the survivor network for me, it was the whole world.” Zak is the son of beloved comedian Robin Williams- a suicide loss survivor, entrepreneur, investor, and mental health advocate. He serves on the board for Bring Change To Mind, an org whose mission is to end the stigma and discrimination around mental illness by creating campaigns, storytelling movements, and youth programs to encourage diverse and cultural conversation around mental health. I prepared for days before, even venting to a dear friend moments before Zak arrived. Would I make a fool of myself? Would I accidentally say ‘Oh Captain, My Captain’ and burst into tears? I was overwhelmed.Then my friend said something important -they said, “Be yourself, share your pain. His pain is the same.Remember who you are and why you’re there.” So that’s what I did. In front of me sat a man who lost a loved one to suicide. A man who understood the same level of devastation as I did, as so many of us do. I shared my story, of attempt and loss. Then I was honored that he shared with me his feelings of loss, devastation and growth. THAT is what I strive for: To create a safe space for ANYONE who’s been touched by suicide so they feel able to share. For 90 min, we were just 2 people who had lost someone, and found a common ground in our pain. After he left, I packed up, got in my car and started to drive.Then immediately I realized, OH YEAH, I’m not ok. I pulled over to the nearest park and I sobbed for 30 minutes. The tears were a culmination of what I’d accomplished in 18 months, they were hearing this man tell me my project was “extraordinary” and that he was happy to be part of it. That somehow, through the death of my sweet brother, I’ve been able to provide a safe space for Zak Williams and so many other people. It was a defining moment for me and for my project. I’m so fortunate to share words and photos from Zak’s session with you all week.

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Robin’s daughter, Zelda, wrote an Instagram post in 2018 detailing the whirlwind of emotion and grief that surrounds the anniversary of her father’s death every year:

It’s that time of year again. Everyone who has dealt with loss knows the pain of certain anniversaries, moments full of memory that come round like clockwork and usurp all others, no matter how hard you may try to prepare for or avoid them. These weeks are the hardest for me, and thus, you’ll see me a lot less, if at all.

For all the internet’s good intentions in expressing to me their fondness for dad, it’s very overwhelming to have strangers need me to know how much they cared for him right now. It’s harder still to be expected to reach back.

So while I’ve got the strength, consider this my one open armed response, before I go take my yearly me time to celebrate his and my birthdays in peace. Thank you for loving him. Thank you for supporting him and his life’s work. Thank you for missing him. I do too.

She went on, encouraging fans to celebrate her father by giving back to their community in tangible ways, just as he preferred to do:

If you’d like to do something in his honor, volunteer at your local homeless shelter, or look up how to make homeless aid backpacks. Give one in his name. He’d have loved that. Otherwise some great orgs he loved include @cafoundation, @dswt, and @reevefoundation. Mostly, try to spread some laughter and kindness around.

And creatively swear a lot. Everytime you do, somewhere out there in our vast weird universe, he’s giggling with you… or giving a particularly fat bumblebee its wings. Happy early birthday, Poppo.
Miss you every day, but especially these ones.

 

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It’s that time of year again. Everyone who has dealt with loss knows the pain of certain anniversaries, moments full of memory that come round like clockwork and usurp all others, no matter how hard you may try to prepare for or avoid them. These weeks are the hardest for me, and thus, you’ll see me a lot less, if at all. For all the internet’s good intentions in expressing to me their fondness for dad, it’s very overwhelming to have strangers need me to know how much they cared for him right now. It’s harder still to be expected to reach back. So while I’ve got the strength, consider this my one open armed response, before I go take my yearly me time to celebrate his and my birthdays in peace. Thank you for loving him. Thank you for supporting him and his life’s work. Thank you for missing him. I do too. If you’d like to do something in his honor, volunteer at your local homeless shelter, or look up how to make homeless aid backpacks. Give one in his name. He’d have loved that. Otherwise some great orgs he loved include @cafoundation, @dswt and @reevefoundation. Mostly, try to spread some laughter and kindness around. And creatively swear a lot. Everytime you do, somewhere out there in our vast weird universe, he’s giggling with you… or giving a particularly fat bumblebee its wings. Happy early birthday, Poppo. Miss you every day, but especially these ones. ♥️

A post shared by Zelda Williams (@zeldawilliams) on

She continues to pay tribute to his sense of humor and kindness, most recently honoring what would have been his 69th birthday.

Robin’s youngest son, Cody, even went as far as to schedule his own wedding in his father’s birthday this year as a way to honor his memory.

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The 21st of July has meant many things to me over the years. It’s the birthday of one of my favorite souls still on this earth, @junotemple. It’s the day Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon (as a space nerd, that’s pretty damn important). And it was the day my Dad was born, and the last day I got to see him. That last one had begun to usurp the joy of the first two in recent years… that is, until two days ago, when it became something new. On the 21st of July, 2019, it became the day I officially gained a new sister! To @mariaaafloresssswilliams and Cody, you are a light in all of our lives. I’m so grateful to have paid witness to your love over the years, to have watched you grow and care for each other in ways we should all be so lucky to experience. You were already part of the family in my eyes, but now there’s an official slip of paper somewhere that agrees! Zak, Mom and I love you both dearly, and I think I can speak for all of us when I say CONGRATULATIONS TO THE BRIDE AND GROOM!!! ???????????????????????? ♥️ Photos by @cassievalentephoto

A post shared by Zelda Williams (@zeldawilliams) on

Robin Williams is the prime example of one’s external life not necessarily reflecting the internal. Despite being one of the most beloved actors, comedians, and fathers, he eventually succumbed to the pain and anguish he was suffering with privately.

Shortly after his passing, an autopsy revealed that Robin had an advanced form of Lewy Body Dementia, a deadly neurodegenerative disorder, that finally explained the series of symptoms he was dealing with. It also shed light on how strong Robin actually was given the full scope of what he coping with. This is the focus of a new documentary titled, “Robin’s Wish” set to debut this Septemeber.

Robin’s legacy lives on through his kids and even his grandchildren. On May 22, 2019, Zak and his fiancee, Olivia June, welcomed his first child into the world, paying tribute to Zak’s father by naming their son McLaurin Clement Williams—McLaurin being Robin’s middle name.

And of course, his legacy lives on through his comedy. Earlier this year his estate launched a Robin Wiliams YouTube channel which was well-received amid a pandemic.

If you or someone you know has been affected by any of these issues, and want to speak to someone in confidence, please don’t suffer alone. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Special Needs Puppy Gets Ghosted by Adopters, Goes Viral, Finds Fur-Ever Home

Jack Ghosted Puppy
(Facebook/PeachesBullyRescue)

After being ghosted by potential adopters, a special needs puppy named Jack has finally found his forever home.

In January the 9-month-old pup with spina bifida had a bath, put on his fancy harness, a fresh diaper, and went with his foster team on a 40-minute drive to meet his new owners. And he was ghosted. All that, and they were a no-call, no-show.

Peaches Bully Rescue in Ohio posted about the puppy’s disappointing day out. They said the foster team put in all that work, drove 40 minutes each way, and puppy Jack was ghosted. The post on Facebook said he was “very sad” and that it was a “huge disappointment.” But, they realized that just wasn’t going to be his family.

“Respect that we are all volunteers just trying to give this guy his best chance. Not showing up or calling is bad form,” they wrote. “Your family will come sweet boy, and when they do, they will be perfect.”

But the post on Facebook did resonate with people. Like, a LOT of people. In fact, it quickly went viral, as plenty of decent people out there felt for the lil guy. And since the post went viral, Jack had HUNDREDS of people lining up to adopt him and give him a home.

Since then, his story has been covered by People Magazine, the Today Show, and The New York Post.

The rescue is processed hundreds of applications and has expressed deep gratitude for the gifts and warm wishes they’ve received. They said the post reached more than 3 million people, and they’ve heard from folks in Australia, the U.K., Germany, Singapore, and more.

“Who knew that our little Jack Jack would be so widely loved,” they posted about the attention. “Thank you all and please support rescue. We are the last chance for many animals in this world.”

Because of his condition, Jack has to wear a diaper, but he is still mobile and still cute as heck.

And now he has a family to take him in fur-ever!

 

Watch Will and Martin Honor “Bad Boys” 26th Anniversary and Tease a 4th Flick

Will Smith Martin Lawrence
(Instagram/willsmith)

“Bad Boys” was a blockbuster for the action-comedy genre, which is a lost art (unless you shoehorn a few select Marvel offerings in there). And it’s definitely developed a cult following over the years, even though it’s only been out a short…26 years. OK, well it feels like less, but you can really feel those years when you see the stars then and now.

And even those it’s been 26 years, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence decided to celebrate the occasion, while renewing their vows to each other as Bad Boys and recreating the original movie poster.

 

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A post shared by Will Smith (@willsmith)

“When we say FOR LIFE we mean it,” Will Smith wrote on Instagram. “Bad Boys came out 26 years ago today!”

Lawrence added “Today marks 26 years and we STILL riding strong! Bad Boys for life!”

So life means life, and the baddest boys are still all about that. Not only that, but we also MAY be getting a fourth (and final) installment of the franchise.

We had a sequel in 2003, and then a long time off before the duo reunited in 2020, but when they were accepting an NAACP Image Award for that latest film is when they tipped their hand about a possible final chapter.

They thanked the fans and said “hopefully, we’re gonna try to get one more…you guys seem to like it, so we’re gonna try to do one more, before we become the sad boys.”

Previously Unpublished Prince Album Drops This Summer

New Prince Album
(YouTube/Prince)

Prince was a legend with no true equal, whether it was as an entertainer or on the court. And even though he’s been gone for five years now, we are about to get some new music from the iconic artist, as his estate is releasing a previously unpublished album from 2010.

The Prince Estate and Legacy Recordings announced earlier this month a forthcoming release of “Welcome 2 America”, recorded by the star in 2010. The press release described it as a “powerful creative statement that documents Prince’s concerns, hopes and visions for a shifting society, presciently foreshadowing an era of political division, disinformation and a renewed fight for racial justice.”

If you can’t wait for the full album, along with the release of a previously recorded full concert, you can hear the title track from “Welcome 2 America” on Spotify and Apple Music. Along with the album, the unreleased concert film (recorded from his 2011 tour of the same name) includes him covering some Bob Dylan and Janet Jackson.

The visionary reportedly had a treasure trove of unrecorded material, a mysterious vault of music intended for the children he never had. His bandmates say Prince’s “Welcome 2 America” is disillusioned funk and ‘perfect for the times’, and will be absorbed in a different way in 2021 than it would have a decade prior.

He never said why the album wasn’t released at the time, but for material that covers commentary on social media, celebrity culture, and the state of the country, it will probably still make a pretty poignant statement about the world he left behind.

The album will drop on July 30th.

Veteran in Hospice Care Has Final Wish Granted, Sees Beloved Dog One Last Time

Dying veteran sees beloved dog one last time
(Facebook/Albuquerque Animal Welfare)

For many, dogs become far more than just pets. Their loyalty, intuition, and unconditional love make them members of the family, ones who stand by our sides during life’s most challenging moments. A veteran named John Vincent was heartbroken when he had to give up his beloved dog Patch after entering hospice care, and even during his final days, he didn’t stop thinking about his best friend.

The 69-year-old had no family nearby, and nobody he knew was willing to take in his 5-year-old companion. When Vincent was moved to the Raymond G. Murphy Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Patch was relinquished to Albuquerque Animal Welfare.

Vincent’s condition was quickly deteriorating, and during a session with his palliative care social worker, Amy Neal, the veteran made a far-fetched last request. His last wish was to see his best friend once more, to say one last goodbye to the loyal terrier. After realizing how meaningful the reunion would be to Vincent, Neal scrambled to make the veteran’s last wish a reality.

“When the request came in, it was an immediate ‘absolutely,’ and let’s do whatever we can to get it done,” Danny Nevarez, Director of Animal Welfare told the Albuquerque Journal. “It was as simple as getting Patch over here.”

As the animal welfare workers drove towards Vincent with Patch quietly in tow, something in the small pup changed.

“It’s almost like he knew, he just started whimpering,” Nevares told the Journal. “Like he had that anticipation.”

The reunion between Vincent and Patch was nothing short of extraordinary, with both man and dog perking up at the sight of one another.

Veteran in hospice says goodbye to beloved dog
(Facebook/Albuquerque Animal Welfare)

“Yeah, that’s me, that’s daddy,” Vincent said to Patch. “Are you so happy to see me? I’m so happy to see you.”

Albuquerque Animal Welfare shared touching photos of the reunion on Facebook, grateful to be part of something so meaningful. Vincent and Patch got to take their time saying a final goodbye, closure that each of them likely needed.

“It was such a heart warming moment,” Albuquerque Animal Welfare wrote on Facebook. “They were so happy to see each other and to say their good byes. It was an honor to make this veterans final wish come true.

Adidas and South Park Collab For the Perfect 4/20 Shoes

Adidas South Park Towelie Shoe
(Instagram/JustJuice)

It isn’t 1992 anymore and the easiest way to tell (besides, well, a calendar) is how culture’s attitude towards cannabis has shifted. State governments are decriminalizing or outright legalizing marijuana use, the medicinal benefits of cannabis are being embraced (by some), and brands and personalities are a lot more open about weed. And that’s why you can celebrate 4/20 with the highest shoes we’ve seen.

There have been some pretty awesome shoe collaborations, but if you’re looking for a partner for 4/20, good luck beating out Adidas teaming up with one of the greatest comedies of all time and releasing a South Park-themed pair of Campus 80s.

South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone worked with the shoe company to make the perfect 4/20 shoes by leaning on everyone’s favorite cartoon-user, Towelie. The Towelie shoes have eye illustrations on the tongue, which can turn pink and bloodshot when exposed to sunlight. The shoes also have a stash pocket beneath the tongue, for whatever you may need to put in a tiny pocket. You know, right where it says “I have no idea what’s going on.”

 

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There’s more Adidas and South Park branding inside the shoe, but from a distance, it’s the blue terry cloth and trademark eyes that will help other fans quickly identify how high your shoes truly are.

South Park knows its demo, which has been a trademark of their success for a long time, and these shoes, available on (well, you know what day they’re available) are another testament to its creator’s ability to make jokes come to life.

After Two Years, the “Perfect” Super Mario Bros. Speedrun Has Been Dethroned

(Youtube/Niftski)

The original Super Mario Bros. is notoriously difficult, and I feel like anyone who can complete the game deserves some kind of medal.  You can imagine my shock then while watching Niftski’s new world record speedrun that clocks in at 4 minutes and 54 seconds.  This is some next-level Mario Bros. gameplay.

Before we get to that run though, we need to go back to September 25th, 2018.  This was the day streamer Kosmic achieved the (previously) “perfect” Super Mario Bros. speedrun world record with a time of 4:55.913, which had only ever been achieved during a tool-assisted run.  These tool-assisted runs are special programs that allow creators to play perfectly, giving them an idea of just how far they can potentially push a game to its limits.  As experts continued to tinker with different speedrun methods, there were tool-assisted runs that would end up clocking in at under 4:55, but what Kosmic had done was as perfect as humanly possible.  Could anyone achieve a better time than his?  How do you improve on perfection?

It wouldn’t be until April 7th, 2021 that streamer Niftski would blow everyone’s minds.  He pulled off a perfect run like no other, just barely sneaking in by milliseconds and setting a new world record of 4:54.948.  I don’t even want to know how many attempts it took to reach this point, but watching this will leave your palms sweaty.  Each jump over an enemy is so close to ending Niftski’s run, it physically pains me to watch.  As he inches closer towards the end, the chat starts to go absolutely berserk and once he knocks Bowser into the lava for the last time, the sheer joy from Niftski’s voice tells you all that hard work has paid off.

“IT HAS FINALLY BEEN DONE! THE 55 BARRIER IS NO LONGER. Huge thanks to everyone who has supported me on this journey. This was my 2nd run ever on this pace into 8-4, so I am blessed to say I finished it out. This is a time I can be proud of for the rest of my life. Also, I don’t plan on stopping here! ;)”

I have a hard enough time jumping on Goomba’s properly, so Niftski’s speedrun is a sight to behold, with each movement being executed with precision.  What’s also interesting is Niftski uses a keyboard to play.  The original NES controller is pretty uncomfortable by today’s standards, but I couldn’t imagine using anything other than that.  I guess if you are going to be playing Mario Bros. as much as these guys do though, comfort is key.

Now, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if anyone can beat this new record.  Will we be waiting weeks or years to find out?  I hope for Niftski’s sake it’s a very long time.

Drink Your Way Through the 7 Kingdoms With the GoT Iron Anniversary IPA

Game of Thrones IPA
(IG/Mikkelerbeer)

Game of Thrones is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its premiere on HBO, and if there’s one great way to celebrate an Iron Anniversary (or any anniversary, to be fair), it’s beer. And Danish brewery Mikkeller is ON IT, collaborating with the fine people of Westeros and HBO to produce a “Game of Thrones” Iron Anniversary IPA.

 

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This is the first in a series of “Game of Thrones” beers brewed in partnership with the folks at Warner Bros, so if an IPA isn’t your thing, maybe they’ll release a Night King stout or a Targaryen White Ale, or maybe a red ale to memorialize that one wedding everyone loved.

The point is, soon you will be able to channel your inner-Tyrion and drink your way through the Seven Kingdoms. And if you have enough of them, you’ll forget the divisive last season ever happened, and you’ll remember the good old days of Thrones, when it was one of the best shows on TV.

It was truly revolutionary, and it’s not their fault that George R.R. Martin wrote a brilliant story that even he couldn’t finish. If you stumble at the end, shouldn’t you still get credit for the great years before it?

Either way, the Iron Anniversary IPA will transport you back to a simpler time, when you could actually discuss a hit show around a water cooler, and not over Zoom.

“We have done a lot of collaborations, but this is without a doubt the biggest so far, and we are extremely proud and happy to get this opportunity,” the brewery founder said.

The first beer, and merch, will be available starting on April 17, with more beers and lagers to come later this year.

WOW: Owen Wilson Has Said “Wow” 81 Times in 27 Movies

Owen Wilson Says Wow 81 Times
(YouTube/Owenergy)

When the Loki trailer came out last week, fans were excited. The ‘correcting the timeline’ concept has a lot of potential for fun hijinks, there were potentially huge easter eggs in the trailer alone (Black Widow?), and Owen Wilson has a major role.

Wilson was a big deal for a while before some personal issues got in the way of his career, and while he hadn’t totally disappeared before Loki, this is his first high-profile gig in a while and his first for TV. He looks like he’s having fun as Loki’s foil, Mobius, the Time Variance Authority agent tasked with managing the God of Mischief, and it will be a blast to see him, and his mustache, on Disney+ this summer.

There was one thing missing from the trailer though: his signature wow.

Much like Keanu‘s “whoa,” the word “wow” has become associated with Owen Wilson over his years as a movie star, and Screen Rant has broken down exactly why: the actor has said the word 81 times in 27 movies over the course of his career! He’s been in 52 movies, and frankly, it’s a little shocking that he hasn’t said it in every single one, but 27 out of 52 is 51.9% (Screen Rant did the math), so it’s pretty common.

Apparently, he says “wow” the most in… the Woody Allen movie he appeared in Midnight In Paris (and which Tom Hiddleston costars). He says it seven times in that movie, as he interacts with long-dead literary heroes from days past, which I suppose warrants some shock. Hopefully, some of the stuff Loki gets up to in the forthcoming Disney+ MCU series will elicit a few wows from our man too. They won’t count towards his movie tally, but they’ll be fun just the same.

Check out Mr. Wilson in action before he hits Disney+ this summer:

Father Figures: The Small Things

“This is my husband and daughter. As you can see, the love they have for each other has not changed.

I remember asking my husband as we were getting to know each other many moons ago, ‘What is one thing you want in your life that you don’t have?’ His answer was immediate, ‘A daughter.’

Who knew I would end up being the lucky gal to give that to him?

He is a wonderful father to three children, but she is our only daughter. He’s the kind of dad that knows and cares enough to pay attention to the small things.

When she’s cranky every month, he goes to the store and buys her favorite chocolate, a Coke and some Midol and then retreats to a safe distance for survival. Then, when she feels better, she still crawls into his lap and hugs him.

She will know how a man is supposed to treat a woman, not only because of how well he treats her, but she also sees how he treats her mother.”

– Christina Miller

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email [email protected]