For those of you who may not know who I am, my name is Monica…. AKA “sweet, sweet, Monica. I am the only daughter of the 7 children that my mother and father had.

First, I would like to say that my father’s passing was a blessed event. His long time suffering is now ended, and his last breath was spent with family who so lovingly helped send him to eternal life and peace.

Now, I would like to say a few words about my father and what he has done for me in my life.

My memories are my own. Obviously, too, too, many to talk about them all, but there are some very important memories which had impact on who I am today, and wonderful happy memories that I would like to share. These are my recollections with my perceptions. They may sound larger than life and perfect, but this is how I see it, and always will. After all, we are talking about one spoiled little girl and her most special father.

Many of you were probably aware of the fact that both of my parents, especially after having three boys, really wanted their little girl.  I have heard from stories told, that it was a very happy day the day I was born. My mother said you could hear the whoops and hollers all the way from the hospital when I finally arrived, and from that moment on, I would be a “Daddy’s girl”.  Hence the nick name, sweet, sweet, Monica. That is what my dad called me nearly every day of my life. 

Every single day I knew that I was someone special because my father always made me feel this way. He had a way of making me feel that I was the most prized possession on the planet, capable of doing anything, and never a day went by that he did not remind me just how beautiful I was.  How special was that? To be so nurtured and loved, and told every single day that I was beautiful and that I mattered. I was one lucky girl. I was safe and secure.

Growing up, my father was every little girl’s dream dad. His soft, gentle, hands, would scoop me up and hold me tight. His touch was so soft, like a feather. He was calm, gentle, and soothing. I am so opposite of that. I am very emotional, dramatic, and excitable.

His calmness and level headedness, could always settle me down. He always gave me good, sound, logical, advice, especially in times when I was not able to think clearly.  I always knew I could call on him for help at any time (even at 3 AM for a ride home). I could go to him with any problem or any situation and know he would listen and help, if he could.

My dad was my protector. Like a knight in shining armor. He would save me from all evil doers (otherwise known as brothers and bad boyfriends) He would rescue  me from “smelling…. Mmmm…. lemons” (aka blue print chemicals)  being fed dog biscuits, and being ridden around the house like a horse, and my dad was always there to pick up the pieces when my heart was broken.

I could run to him for protection when I would tease "the boys" to the point of physical violence, clutching his leg, egging them on with a sticking out tongue, and I would still be his sweet, sweet, Monica.   Imagine that…….”Take that you evil doers!” 

He would save me from spiders and other creepy crawly things. He rescued me from castle towers (otherwise known as tree forts), and any other place I would climb up to and not be able to get down. The phrase “Go get Dad” became a regular phrase in our household. There was nothing he wouldn't’ do for me, or any of us for that matter.

I also recall all the little things that were included in growing up “Benkowski” style. The organized running through the house while symphony music played in the background, as my father would flip us as we came down the hallway. I remember the picnics at the zoo, the walks at the lakefront, cross country skiing, and family camp. I remember sitting on my dad’s lap at the end of the day while he read the newspaper as he shared sips of beer with me, the large Sunday morning breakfasts, again, to be enjoyed only with the finest of music playing in the background. 

He put up with the cats, kittens, dogs, gerbils, mice, snakes, and lizards, and anything else we managed to sneak into the house and let escape.

My father and my mother exposed us to many things that helped to mold and shape us. They brought different cultures, ethnicity, diversity, into our lives. They taught us how to be fair, and live without prejudice. I remember as a small girl, being mesmerized by these people who were different from us. Their beauty, the richness and elegance of their skin color, the bright saris and their accents. 
Although their skin color was different, we were taught and shown that they were the same. They were always welcomed into our house.
My father encouraged us to dream.

My father encouraged us to think outside the box. We were free to explore and try things.  He would always be there, supportive, and try and make every dream come true. Oh, there were lots of dreams like, ballet dancing, playing the flute, playing the piano, owning a horse, going to college, and business adventures. Did I mention horses? I was a horse crazy kid. I WAS a horse when I was little. That is why Kevin decided to ride me around the house that day. My dad bought me my first horse.  I also remember dragging him all over the place to take pictures of me with my horses. He lovingly did it.

He lovingly bought the flute, bought the piano, bought me those horses, paid for college, he supported my business ventures. He was there, always there.  I am so grateful for my parents.

Although I am up here trying to explain this, my words cannot express to you how deep a love I have always felt from him, how deep a love I have always felt for him.

When I was with my Dad, I felt his love, his complete and unconditional love. It was an unspoken feeling, a connection. Even recently, all I had to do was show up, and then would come the smile when he saw me, and then my heart would feel that pure love that he had for me. That smile would bring a warmth that would surround me like a hug. I was home. I was once again, that little girl… safe and secure.  My Dad….. I love you dad.

As you can see, my life has been rich and filled with wonderful moments and events. I was never in want or need for anything. I am very blessed to have had such a wonderful childhood.

There is no doubt that I am who I am because of my father, his devotion, and his love. I will always be grateful for the opportunities that were given to me by both of my parents.  I hope that I have made them proud and continue to do so.

There will come a time when my father and I will be together again, and it will be a wonderful reunion. Until then, I will treasure my memories and take comfort knowing that he will always be my guardian angel and I will always feel his love.

* A special note I would like to add, " I DID IT DAD! I Certified in Equine Natural Balance Dentistry in November of 2009. You followed my journey. You knew I would do it, but I wanted to once again, thank you for your support and belief in me. You were the best Dad ever. Love you!

Your One and Only Daughter,