I remember these days like it was yesterday.

We’d ride down Thompson Store Road in his grey Chevrolet Blazer. He’d have a Coke and pour the peanuts inside.

The windows would be down, and we’d be blaring and singing to the top of our lungs nothing else but Alan Jackson’s “Little Bitty.”

That was me, my daddy’s Little Bitty.

He loves to talk about how when I was born prematurely, I could fit in the palm of his hands.

My sister was the one who took to racing when she was little. One of her favorite Disney channel movies was “Right on Track” based off the true story of dragster racers Erica and Courtney Enders who helped pave the way for women drag racers in the National Hot Rod Association.

That was fitting for my dad who grew up watching NASCAR and Dale Earnhardt and always has to take us go-karting every summer.

Even though I took to different interests growing up, I was always an ally for my dad — someone to take his side and to be his passenger seat driver when the rest of the crew stayed put.

We both love to sing, and even though he tries to be bashful, give either one of us karaoke for the night and you may not get the microphone back.

I’ve seen him work hard my whole life from working his way up the ranks at Food Lion, operating his lawn care business and still today helping the church when he can, and now working with Lawrence Distributing, most of the time taking on well more than his fair share of the load.

But, he’s not all work and no play.

If there’s anyone who taught me how to laugh, have fun and be silly, it’s him.

He’s always been the fun dad willing to jump in the pool and throw you in the air to the other side.

He’s been the dad to teach us how to drive four-wheelers, and I miss those days we’d get with a group and ride through the woods of the neighborhood.

We’re probably the only two in the house who can stand to watch a cooking show or “American Idol” or give us “Restaurant Impossible” any day.

I’m no gourmet chef, but I definitely enjoy cooking, and so does he.

He’s a man of many hats who’s strong willed, loving, fun and caring, who will be there in a minute to help his little girls or my brother, and don’t even get me started on the grandkids.

He can get through anything, and I’m so glad I still have him by my side. He’s scared us over the years, but he always pulls through to the other side.

We may not always say it enough, but we always appreciate what you do for us daddy.

We love you. Happy early Father’s Day daddy and to all the other dads out there.

Ashley Hodge is the editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com

Ashley Hodge is the editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com