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Here I am with both my parents after they drove me to the airport …..to fly to my honeymoon the day after my wedding.  C had flown out the day before.  I guess I needed an extra day before leaving the nest for good??  Anyway, that’s my dad wearing his classic cowboy-but-not-really-because-he’s-from-New Jersey hat.

Rarely late in real life, but always late to the blog, I sit down in typical after-the-event fashion to give a virtual Father’s Day toast to my Dad. My dad, the youngest of four, the father of a (not so cheap) dozen, born in Morristown to Irish American parents and raised in the house that my grandmother still lives in, lover of American history, golf, jeopardy, the occasional cigar, and my most trusted advice giver, is a joyful, hard-working and reliable father.

Here are some facts about Brian Murray:

-He invented games from Hide the Quarter (a complex and strategic game that we found endlessly entertaining in our very young years, in which Dad hides a quarter that must be slightly within eyesight, and we find it) to Hide-and-Go-Seek-Car-Edition (the family splits up into two separate cars at night and one car hides anywhere within our township while the other cars finds it with the aid of walky-talky communication hints: “You’re hot, you’re warm, you’re very very cold, you’ve just driven out of bounds”)

-He wears his “vacation bandana” around his neck every year when we set out for the road trip to our vacation destination.

-He built us a tree house, a basketball court, a bocce ball court, hung a tire swing, froze crates of ice to make us an igloo one year, and even wrote a book to read to us in chapters every night.

-He took us on many beautiful and challenging hikes, and although some of us may have protested, I think we all have a solid appreciation for the outdoors because of it.

-He created a family cook-off during one vacation. The kids split into two teams and had to prepare dinner every night using the same protein, vegetable and starch, but fixing them however we wanted. Our dishes were judged on taste, creativity and presentation. As I recall, my team’s meals always tasted better, but we lost overall because the other team kept employing all these presentation gimmicks, like carefully placed parsley sprigs and droplets of garnish. I also recall that my overly controlling brother Steve barely let me do anything apart from the cutting or cleaning of vegetables; he thought my culinary talents were subpar. They are not.

-He proclaimed on one particularly messy Christmas morning that this was “the best Christmas ever.” I won’t elaborate. Dad, you know what I’m talking about.

-He goes out with my mom every single week and gets away with her a couple times a year.

-He gave me a love of cooking.  I love cooking with him or watching him in the kitchen.  He is not afraid to take risks, but most of the time his more creative concoctions are delicious.  I love how he comes up with experimental gluten free cakes for me every year, and I love how he baked me a fabulous almond flour wedding cake.

-I once came downstairs and found him watching the movie “Little Women” with my youngest sister Collette. When he saw me, he said in complete sincerity, “This is such a good movie.” He is also much more of a Downton Abbey fan than my mom (which actually isn’t saying much, considering the fact that my mom loves TV about as much as she loves World War II, and at least she is fascinated by the latter).

-He is now a chicken keeper extraordinare, to the point where when I FaceTime from Lebanon so that I can see the faces of my family members, he mistakenly thinks I am calling to talk with the chickens, and will carry one into the kitchen to be part of the conversation.

-He was the second person, after my brother Dave, to know about the crush I had on C before we started dating. I wasn’t in the habit of sharing that sort of info with my dad, but in this particular case, I knew it was serious and I always consult my dad whenever I’m about to make a big decision.

-He is humble enough to grow and change and admit to mistakes and listen with an open heart, and I love that about him. We don’t agree on everything, but he teaches me so much and I am very lucky to be his daughter.

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This is a picture of my parents experiencing a roller coaster.