I really love my dad and have always been very close to him.
He is really a kid at heart, and so liked doing things with me (he was a stay-at-home dad from the time I was about three, which made things easier). He watched TV with me, spent entire days reading books or listening to me read, played games with me, went for walks with me, talked to me, listened to me. He was as actively involved in my life as I can imagine a parent being.
He did let me know in many ways that he thought I was both smart and beautiful, but they were kind of subtle. He didn't politicize it or anything.
I think the best thing he did for me was empathize--he almost always understood, or at least tried to understand, how I felt about a given topic. He took my thoughts and opinions seriously. In all honesty, I preferred him over most of the kids my own age even in high school.
Now that I'm grown, we're not quite so close, although I still call him once or twice a week just to talk. Because I now have thoughts and opinions that are entirely separate from his (as opposed to taking his word as ultimate truth), we have arguments. Although I still agree with him about 90% of all topics, that last 10% is hard for him to handle. He still sometimes takes the "command" attitude where he issues orders and expects me to carry them out, which I think is ridiculous; I'm an adult. Also, I think he has problems accepting that I'm in a mature relationship with a man, although my sweetie is a wonderful, fantastic, terrific man who treats me wonderfully and is every bit as nice as my dad is.
My dad is a kid at heart, and I can't wait to have kids so I can watch him in action as a grandad (he already is one but it's different). Unfortunately, he's already in his mid-seventies so I suspect he won't be around when my kids grow up.
I hope this post wasn't too long, but even this doesn't do justice to how great my dad is and what a huge role he had in my turning out to be such a fantastic woman!