It's strange looking back at my relationship with my dad because for the first thirty years of my life we didn't have much of one.
No, we weren't separated by divorce, long hours at work, or even a grudge lingering from my not-so-pleasant adolescence. I'd developed a distant and vague composite of my father - a tall and shy man who worked very hard.
I just never really paid him any mind. He was a fixture that I took for granted.
Then nine years ago, when I was pregnant in my second trimester and bleeding, my dad showed up to offer his help. I was surprised. Sure, in the past he'd given me financial aid, fatherly advice and fixed broken appliances, but money and words and tools weren't going to prevent a possible miscarriage.
Still and every day he came. He took me grocery shopping and did the heavy chores of cleaning, He undeniably maintained my household.
At first, I felt awkward having my retired dad around on a daily basis. I even felt guilty at times. I didn't know how to relate to this calm, quiet gentleman because at the time that's all he was to me, a nice and helpful man.
But, somewhere between folding laundry together and watching The Oprah Winfrey Show and we started talking. It seemed silly that it took a talk show's calamity to break the ice between us. Yet soon, we were voicing our opinions on everything from politics to child-rearing. Then things got more personal and we started swapping life stories.
My dad became a remarkable man who had a fascinating history - and a new granddaughter.
After the baby was born, Dad continued coming over and helping out. Our projects began extending beyond household chores. He taught me how to hold a hammer "like a man." We built furniture and then a shed. And to this day he arrives religiously at my door every other week to help me get ready for Girl Scout meetings in my garage.
My friends find it amusing that my dad is still helping out even though my two girls have started school full-time, but they don't understand. It's not just about the work anymore. Working together broadens our understanding of one another.
I doubt the issues of race and religion and morality would have come up during a brief lunch at the mall. So you're more likely to find my dad and me complaining about the inflated prices of nails in a hardware store than having a polite conversation over a hamburger. He is my best friend, after all and that involves more than talk of the weather.
Knowing him has helped me understand what makes a man noble.
When he reads this, he'll probably laugh and wonder what the heck I'm talking about, but I know him now, and that's an honor I almost lost.
So, to anyone searching for a true friend, I recommend starting with the person you may have taken most for granted.