The male that I would choose would be my daddy, Frank Dominick (with my husband, Chris, being a close second!). And now I'm sitting here and I'm at a loss for words (yes, folks, you read it correctly - I'm at a loss for words) to describe to you what a wonderful, caring, loving man he was. That is how special he was. Daddy taught me how to ride my bike (a story that will likely be told for generations in my family!). Daddy taught me how to fish (really fish, I mean, bait the hook, take the fish off, and everything and my father-in-law can attest that I STILL do it!). Daddy taught me about baseball (I'm still a Tigers fan!). In fact, I used to be the "bat girl" when he coached his company team. It was so fun. Here's a good one: Daddy taught me how to dunk an Oreo cookie and how to twist it apart and lick off the "white stuff"! Oreos were his favorite. Daddy was a very brilliant, successful man, but I never felt like he was ever too busy for me, and I'm sure my sister would say the same thing. That is something that I deeply appreciate now that I have children of my own and I regret to say that sometimes I do say those dreaded words to my two precious little girls, "I'm busy." Daddy appreciated people, I mean, really appreciated people, and people were drawn to him. He was compassionate toward people's needs and always tried to help out if he could and sometimes even when he couldn't. Daddy taught me how to laugh (he was so funny!), how to love (he was a very affectionate father, as you can see), how to learn (when I was still in school, he gently pushed and when I dug my feet in he pushed harder because he knew, as I do now, how important education is) and how to LIVE (reach for your goals, but have a plan, and be prepared to pay your dues and, above all else, nurture your relationships, and spend time with the people you love while you can because LIFE IS SHORT). He taught me so many more things during his time here on this earth that I could write and write and write about, and maybe I'll dedicate another post to him and pick up where I left off, but I wanted to close with something he taught me that is dear to my heart: Daddy taught me how to write, how to express myself on paper, how to slip into a world of make-believe where anything is possible. I know I'm writing today because of my father. I'm so thankful to him and I miss him so much, but I can sometimes feel him with me in those still moments.
Onto the female nominee . . . I have had many women make a huge impact in my life - my mother, my step mom, any of my three sisters (who are also my very best friends), my Granny Moltz or my Grandma Dominick. I had a pastor, Pastor Janis, who was a great influence to me. I worked under a principal once, Donna Miller, who taught me an enormous amout about teaching and life in general. Of course, my publisher, Joan, has grown to be a very special mentor and person to me. And I've been blessed bountifully with friends all who have touched my life in a very special way, but I wouldn't nominate them because they haven't made an impact like one very special little girl . . . my first born daughter, Alison.
Now, don't think I'm playing favorites. Those of you who know my little Olivia are very aware that she is every bit as darling (and as ornery) as Alison. Olivia is my baby and that's a very special bond seperate from the bond of the first born - they're different and the same, if that makes sense. But I have a very deep admiration for Alison because she was born with a cleft palate. Alison has had challenges that she's had to face since birth. When she was first born, it was feeding issues and she had to use a special bottle. When she was eleven months old she had her first surgery - cleft palate repair and her first set of ear tubes (which is the picture to the right). She started speech therapy shortly after that. She was a little more than a year old when she said her first word - Mama. I remember that day very clearly. I was beyond happy! And she has come SO far with her speech! She has since had four or five more sets of ear tubes, a surgery to help with her speech, a tonsilectomy, and the latest is that she is going through a sleep study trial because of apnea. In a few days she will be getting a CPAP mask to sleep with at night. And the most humbling part of this for me as her mother is that she has been so brave, so resilient through every ordeal. And what I think is very special about Alison is that where other kids might have felt sorry for themselves or allowed their self esteem to falter because they don't talk like the other kids or they have to wear a mask to bed at night, her confidence level has remained untouched. She knows that God has made her exactly the way He wants her and she's totally cool with that. So cool, in fact, that she has sung solos in church a couple times and in her school Christmas program! And she's actually looking forward to getting her CPAP mask so that she can decorate it with glittery stickers! She's amazing! In addition to going through her medical issues, she is so incredibly smart! She has a passion for learning - she just soaks it up like a little sponge. Also, she has found a love of swimming. I wouldn't be surprised if one day she grew a tail and some scales and changed her name to Ariel! When I look at my little girl and remember all she's gone through (and may very well still have to go through) I am so awestruck that God would deem me worthy to be the mother of such an extraordinary, beautiful child.
So now you know who I would nominate, if I could. Who will you nominate????