Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Real Men Don't....except when it comes to their daughters


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It used to be, that if I needed to remoisten my contacts, I could just close my eyes and think of my best dog Ranger. He's been gone for about 5 years now, but it always seems to work.

Last Friday, I discovered another way. The workday was over and I was alone at my computer trying to write the text for Katie's senior page in the yearbook. A senior page is a full page tribute to your graduating senior that parents create. The page is a photo collage with a "We're so proud" type letter from the parents. The pictures for Katie's page had been chosen and the yearbook teacher told me that she needed the text to complete the page. The deadline was close, could I do it before I went home for the weekend?

So, there I was, staring at a monitor and trying to put into words what a wonder a daughter is, how proud we are of her, how happy we are for this milestone she is approaching. This was a lot tougher than I thought it would be. Her senior year had always been this point far in the future, a sort of nebulous destination that seemed light years away. Yet, here I was...

I scrolled through her pictures looking for inspiration. Some bit of chalk dust must have drifted into my eyes, they began to water. I typed a little, but then more of that damn chalk dust must have entered my throat, because I had a lump in it. I got up and locked the classroom door.

I sat down and resumed typing my Katie tribute. Stupid chalk dust! Now my eyes were leaking, my nose sniffling, and I had a lump the size of a roundrock in my throat. I grabbed a paper towel, wiped and blew.

Deep breath now as I wrote about this baby, this toddler, this child, this teen, this young woman. Like every parent who gets to this point, I can't believe we HAVE gotten to this point, and yet here we are. I think I had ignored that fact until that moment.

It was hitting home pretty hard, and in that empty classroom, I reached for a wad of paper towels and kept writing. Finally, I finished. I rinsed my face in the lab sink, did some deep breathing, slapped on a pair of dark shades and headed up the hall to the yearbook sponsor's classroom.

She took the paper and read it. She looked at me. She hugged me.

She knew.

35 comments:

Thunder Dave said...

FC,
It's not just daughters that have that effect, sons do too!

On the bright side, you're a third of the way done with your job! Congratulations and keep up the good work!

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

I got chalk dust in my eyes and a large lump in my throat and tears rolling down my face, as I read your post.

I didn't realize that father's were so sentimental too. It was clearly a very touching moment in your life...glad you shared it with us.

The MacBean Gene said...

Daughters can really do a number on Fathers. We try so hard to be the tough guy but down inside we're really a bunch of saps. To any females who may read this, it's not true.

Rurality said...

Why FC, you old softie you!

What a great idea for the yearbook. I think kids are different nowdays in a lot of ways... I'm afraid we would have run screaming from such an idea when we were in high school.

vicki said...

Very very nice. I don't even need to read the tribute to have some sense of it and who she is and how you feel about her. And I would suggest that you are just now warming up with that chalk dust, seeing as it's her senior year.

pablo said...

When I had to write something for my twin sons' senior pages, I chickened out and used ancient quotations, and I used the Latin version of them to disguise the feelings even further. To this day, I don't think my boys have any idea what the quotations say.

threecollie said...

That senior year is a tough one. We are on our second of those right now, and it doesn't get any easier. I wrote a column to thank all the folks who helped us raise our oldest when she graduated and I STILL can't read it without that chalk dust syndrome cropping up.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Best thing you've ever written, and we don't get to see it?

Rexroth's Daughter said...

I keep trying to write something here, and I keep deleting what I write. Everything I come up with sounds trite. I just love how you love your family.

Floridacracker said...

Thunder,
I can see that. I get 4 years to prepare for him.

Abandoned,
I think I had not faced it until that moment. Thanks for the nice comment.

Mac,
LOL at the disclaimer at the end.

Rurality,
Like a tootsie pop...

Vicki,
You are right. There's a whole string of events coming up...

Pablo,
Very clever, and very guy.

Threecollie,
Maybe they should ban chalk dust :)

Hoss,
I don't think it was the best I've written...just tough to write.

RD,
That's one of the nicest things anybody ever said to me.

Xariklea said...

Wow...you have very blessed children. God's smiled on all of y'all....

Floridacracker said...

xariklea,
Thanks. It's good to remember that when things get crazy.

Deb said...

I echo what Rexroth's Daughter said. I have been thinking for hours, trying to come up with a comment that matches this beautiful post. I was just telling The Hermit tonight what I love about Pure Florida: the honesty, the devotion to family, and the love of the land. But mostly the honesty.

Why is this screen looking all blurry now? Gotta go get some Kleenex...

roger said...

took me all day to comment.

well spoken and right on fc. you're a good dad.

Floridacracker said...

Deb,
Thank you very much for the kind words. Your family actually crossed my mind that afternoon, because this moment is a day in the future for you. All that "they grow up too fast" talk we hear turns out to be true. Thanks again.


DPR,
Thank you pirate. If that's all I ever am...it'll be okay.

doubleknot said...

My daughter has the same effect on me. She has made her way in the world and taken a path that makes her a strong woman.
Bravo for you and your daughter.

Floridacracker said...

Doubleknot,
You must have done a good job as mom. :)

benning said...

Awwwwwww. :D

A good Daddy. :D

Weary Hag said...

How very touching. What a good dad you are!

Floridacracker said...

Weary,
Thanks.

Floridacracker said...

Benning,
Appreciate it.

Leslie said...

Stupid chalk dust.
Good thing nobody is around right now, 'cause I can't find any kleenex.
Used my sleeve. (For tears! Not snot!!)

My first senior year is next year.
I won't think about it now :P

PI said...

The one time I felt like that about one of my children was after son no 1 had left for a school ski trip after having driven me demented with his naughtiness. Suddenly I realised how much I loved him and wrote a long letter telling him.
He never got the letter but he seems to know how I feel.

Penny said...

Children come in many packages and it's always a wonder to behold when they break free of the wrapping. It sounds like you have a special bond with your daughter. And the best part is that you are able to tell her.

Wait until she becomes a mother ... a grandchild holds such a special place, too.

p.s. hopped over from Hoss' place. I'm sure I'll be back!

Suburban Turmoil said...

Awesome post. Hoss chose well. This truly is a most perfect post. :)

Angie said...

This is a wonderful post. Your daughter has something I have always wanted -to know the love of her father. Well deserving of the perfect post award. Congrats!

Jona said...

Arrived via Hoss, and wanted to say...I don't know. But that was lovely. None of mine have got to that stage yet, but with each birthday I look at them and wonder when it was they grew so much. Sugar, that chalk dust is spreading!

Natsthename said...

Congrats on your perfect post!

I remember choking up when I assembled the photos for my son's yearbook tribute, and then for a huge poster I displayed at his grad party (in 2003.) When you see their life (so far) in pictures spread in front of you, it hits you hard that you won't be able to be around for much but the big occasions after that. No more smiles at the dinner table on some plain old Thursday night...no more hugs before bedtime on a "school" night. Ya know? OF course, chalk dust doesn't help.

(BTW I lived in North FL for 9 years and I miss lots about it..but not the heat!)

MommaK said...

*sigh* I'm still getting over my youngest being in kindergarten....last year. I'll need heavy meds when I'm in your shoes. You're a great dad who wrote a very touching post. Kudos for both :)

Lucy said...

First time poster - Congratulations on your Perfect Post. What a beautiful tribute - Reminded me of time i created a scrapbook for my son's 8th grade graduation...and all the things i found to include.

Sudiegirl said...

My dad was pretty sentimental too and like you, would blame it on inanimate objects.

Hug that sweet baby girl of yours tight, no matter how old she is.

Sudiegirl

Floridacracker said...

Leslie,
Thanks, I'm not telling you anything you don't already know, but this senior year goes really fast. Enjoy each moment!

Pi,
It's a good thing we love them so much can they can drive us crazy sometimes.

Penny,
Oh no, one thing at a time! Not ready for grandchildren, but plan to spoil them rotten someday :)

Lucinda,
Thanks...I've got some awsome kids.

Angie,
Thanks, I love this "job".

Jona,
The colic-diaper time seems to last forever...and then suddenly they're grown. Thanks for the kind words.

Natalie,
Sounds like you've been here first. As for N FL heat, I know what you mean...it's right around the corner.

Mommak,
That's exactly the point. It seems like yesterday I watched her walk down the school hall on her first Kindergarten day. I can picture her exactly...my turn to sigh.

Lucy,
Thanks. These milestones are a weird mix of pride, happiness, and a little sadness. All good I guess.

Hoss,
You rascal! You know I am going to personally respond to everybody that comments here. I'm loving it, but I'm sending you the carpal tunnel therapy bill! :)

Floridacracker said...

Sudiegirl,
Great advice. Will do!

Margaret said...

I have two daughters also, and find myself overwhelmed with love for them most of the time. The other times, well... Our older daughter left for college this year, so I had to write a few tributes to her as well.

Floridacracker said...

Margaret,
Not easy is it? :)


To anybody who tried to see this in the past few days...Sorry for the errors..it's complete now.