My mom was very pregnant with my new little sibling, and she was headed to a baby shower some friends were putting on for her. No men allowed, and so my dad offered to take me, his little girl, to dinner. I was five years old, and a local diner was my immediate answer.
I held my dad’s hand as we walked from our car to the building, entered through the front doors, and were quickly seated. The waiter asked me what I’d like to drink.
“Milk!” I exclaimed enthusiastically.
My dad smiled. “And…?”
“And a straw!” I added with a big grin.
“Coming right up,” the waiter winked at me, scribbled on his paper, and then walked away.
When they brought my milk to me, the straw was absent, and I pointed this out to my dad.
He glanced over his shoulder looking for the waiter, who was occupied serving a large group seated at a long table, and he caught sight of the waiter’s station across the front lobby which was stocked full of straws, spare silverware, napkins, etc.
“I’ll get you one, Sweetie. Wait here, okay?” he replied.
I nodded, dangling my feet from the booth, observing how my light-up shoes flashed whenever I kicked my heels together. I watched the table next to me with the family of people eating, talking, and laughing. They were loud. I took a sip of my milk without the straw.
Why was my daddy taking so long? I craned my neck to see him but got distracted by the sudden loud laughter of a man next to me.
Meanwhile, my dad was crossing the lobby floor, approaching the waiter’s station when he caught site of a young employee backed against a wall, eyes wide, staring at something not far behind him
My dad spun on his heels in time to see a man wearing a ski mask jump over the front counter, take money from the register, and hold the tip of a sawed-off shotgun at my dad’s head and say, “Don’t try to follow me.”
“I won’t,” he said calmly.
The man turn, ran, and left the building, all the while, only about three people noticing that anything strange had happened at all. The business manager had seen the scene unfold from the other side of the restaurant and when she got the police on the line, she was so hysterical that she handed the phone to my father to talk to them about the details. They caught the man after a chase, discovered he was a former employee on drugs, and returned the money to the restaurant without a hitch.
My dad came back to our table with a straw in his hand.
“What took you so long, daddy?”
“There are some police we need to talk to, okay?” he said with a reassuring smile, sticking a straw into my milk. “Come with me.”
We spoke with the police, the Sheriff gave me a teddy bear that night, and I had absolutely no idea that anything outside of the ordinary had occurred. But years later, I look back on that night and think…even after all that, my dad came back with a straw.
See, there are some people in life that I look up to, who I know I can depend on no matter what. My dad is one of those people. He is by far my hero in more ways than I can count.
Be it leaving work early to see a soccer game, standing by during my heart surgery with anticipation and concern, listening to ten bazillion awkward school concerts that I was so proud of, teaching me how to draw or ride my bike, sacrificing thousands upon thousands of dollars to pay for my private education from the time I was learning to write through the time I graduated high school, or watching me on the day of my black belt test with great pride, he’s always been there. He’s my go-to man. If I ever need anything, a straw or some advice, my dad is the one I can go to, and I count that as one of my greatest blessings!
Who is your hero and why? I’d love to read your responses!