I was a lucky girl growing-up. My family may not have had a lot of extras, but our house was filled with much love and we shared a warm dinner together every evening.
Family dinner was my favorite time of the day - knowing I had a time to share my successes or disappointments and listening to other's days as we made our way around the table was quite comforting to a little girl.
As my sister and I grew older, my Dad could no longer join us each night for dinner. For awhile my Dad worked two jobs, so my parents could afford to send us to dance lessons, piano or violin lessons, field hockey camps.
Most parents probably would have told their children that these were luxuries that could just not be afforded at the moment.
But my Dad was steadfast in his desire to provide more to his daughters than he had growing up. He and my mother felt these things were important to raise well-rounded children who would go on to become productive members of society.
For the excruciating schedule my Dad kept, I never heard him complain in front of my sister or me. He resonated that it was a privilege to provide such opportunities for us. It was something he was proud to do.
Many years later, after I graduated from college and moved north, I sat in my parent's kitchen and told them I had decided to switch careers. I wanted to make a career out of my true passion.
I remember my Dad looking a bit deflated when I said this. He wasn't on board with my decision right away. Now, fully immersed in the life of a pastry cook, I can understand his sentiment.
Having attended culinary school and worked many years in the food world, my Dad knew exactly what I was getting myself into. He could see the long hours, the low pay, the non-existent family life, the exhaustion - he could see everything I couldn't see.
What he couldn't see, and what I couldn't tell him at that moment, is that he was the reason I had such a passion for baking. True, my mother had instilled recipes and the methodical execution of a dessert from before I could remember.
But my Dad opened up a whole different view of food and baking. I can see my father in myself when I change a recipe, before I have even made it once.
When I taste a creation and immediately start thinking about how I will change it next time, something that drove my mother mad, I know I have my father to thank.
His passion for cooking, never measuring, always tweaking, taught me that if I understand the basics, I can always make a recipe my own.
He taught me to never accept a recipe or theory at face - to always question why a certain ingredient or method is used, to execute it myself, to improve upon history.
I now find myself in a difficult spot in my life and my career, likely a spot my father knew I would find myself in sooner or later. When he visited last weekend, as we sipped coffee in a neighborhood shop, I asked him what I should do.
His advice was something that I imagine he repeated over and over to himself during the years he was working two jobs, or working so many hours that he was rarely home.
"Just keep going."
Happy Father's Day, Daddy. I love you.