Thursday, June 08, 2006

... and Life Was Not The Same

Twenty years ago today I stood in the delivery room of the 101st Airborne Division hospital at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky.

“Lieutenant, you have a daughter,” said the Army nurse.

She gently placed her in my arms. There was no trembling or weak knees. Instead, an uncontrollable smile and the firm cradle of my arms. She opened her eyes for the first time.

… and life was not the same.

I told her stories before bedtime and let her “help” me in the garage. She would follow me around when she was two and push a plastic grocery cart through the grocery store when she was three. One day I found her standing on a little stool at the kitchen sink “doing the dishes.”

… and life was not the same.

She wore footed PJs. The bed was about the same height as she was. She would stand next to the bed, at eye level to me, with her little face almost touching mine, and would patiently wait for me to wake up.

… and life was not the same.

I would help her write her ABCs and numbers. We colored ducks and umbrellas and drew circles around kitty cats that were the same. Later we did addition, subtraction, and reading together.

… and life was not the same.

We sang Barney and Disney songs together while driving to doctor and dentist appointments and played hide and seek in the backyard.

… and life was not the same.

When she was four she asked me not to leave her when I took her to a birthday party. She made me a paper bookmark with her photo glued at the top for Father’s Day.

… and life was not the same.

She told me where to sit so I had a clear view of her during her first choir performance. I caught her in her first lie as she stood beside the broken potted plant.

… and life was not the same.

When she was 14 she joined the high school swim team. She wasn’t fast in the water but she completed every varsity workout just the same. I sat in the stands for four years and watched her swim each meet in a lane next to the wall. Once she was in third place with only 10 yards to go in the 500 freestyle. She finished in fourth place -- missing third by an inch -- and cried tears of joy because she had never finished higher than sixth before. Although she never qualified for the district meets she was awarded her athletic jacket and letter for being on the team for four straight years. In her last race of her senior year the coach placed her in lane four. She taught me how to train with determination and commitment.

… and life was not the same.

She asked me to drive her to her first date. A movie. I did and waited in the theater parking lot for two hours.

... and life was not the same.

Her great-great grandfather came to this country with no formal schooling. Her great grandfather dropped out of school after the seventh grade. Her grandfather graduated high school by taking the G.E.D. exam in his 20's. I graduated from a state college on government assistance. She attends a private university and will study European economics in Paris, France. An American dream that lives.

I will always be involved in her life.

I will pray for her daily.

I will be an example of a good father.

There is coming the day when she will move away.

… and life will never be the same.

Happy Birthday, sweetheart!


Shelley said...

Wow how sweet and how time flys buy so swiftly...

greyhound said...

Girls and their dads. So special. My little one is growing up so fast and your post reminds me just how fast it will happen. When we finish reading stories and share that quiet moment right after the light goes out, I wish time would just stop.

I am so NOT ready for that first date.

Flatman said...

What an awesome post...I am sure she is as proud of you as you are of her...

Cliff said...

Great post Triboomer...

Iron Pol said...

I know that child (well, the first three or four points), except it is a boy, Toddler Pol.

And you hit the nail on the head for every (new) parent out there. Life just continues to change.

I like the part about HER keeping YOU in line with swim training. It's good when our kids can help teach us.

Deb said...

You are blessed! Congrads on that beautiful young woman in your life!!

Wil said...

I love this post. Happy birthday little Boomer :)

stronger said...

What a beautiful post...exactly what a 20 year old needs to hear.

Barb said...

What a nice post! I think us girls will always be the apple of our daddy's eye!

Elizabeth said...

Gosh, this made me cry! I guess you both have examples (each other)to live by, huh?

Leese said...

We just LOVE your blog. I was telling Kim how the picture of you, is actually a picture of the 3 of us. You need to come back to the 'burg for a visit, so you can get that smile back on your face...:)