Sunday, June 17, 2007

Just You and Me

Being the eldest of six children, a girl can't expect much one-on-one time with her dad. Especially when his work takes him away from home on travel five days a week for nearly nine of her growing up years.

If you imagine that this girl thinks fondly on those times when she had her dad to herself, you're right.

There was a girl, all of nine years old, dressed-up in her silky sage green dress and her hair drawn up into a bun. There was a father with her attending a piano concert of a very young girl - a child prodigy she must have been. I'm sure it was her father's way of inspiring his daughter to practice more. But I remember it was just you and me all dressed up for an evening together.

An unused servant's quarters transformed by red light into a photographer's darkroom. Father showing daughter how to make chemical and paper magically bring captured memories to life. Teaching his daughter the ins and outs of shutter speed, light meter readings, and f stops - entrusting her with his camera and sharing a passion for snapping the everyday moments of life. But I remember it was just you and me working by the soft glow of a red bulb.

A special weekend of two dads and two daughters straining eyes, scanning forests, sighting doe and fawn and buck. A new pair of brown leather cowboy boots, her only ones ever. Moments of independence riding down the mountain alone on ATVs with her friend, freezing, giggley and mud-splattered. Gray skies whispered their snow secrets, but I remember it was just you and me coming home from a week of deer hunting on Halloween night.

A brown Toyota Corolla so old that it drank leaded gasoline like lemonade, the sheepskin covers giving new life to cracked vinyl. A father coaching his daughter in the nuances of driving a manual transmission. Ever patient, except when it comes to matters of speed, and unable to take the snail's pace and trepidation any longer, pushes his hand firmly, yet gently on daughter's knee sending foot down to meet accelerator to meet floor. Finally, faster. But I remember it was just you and me in daddy daughter driving school.

And now just six months ago this daughter, now a grown woman and a parent herself, sits with her father and takes counsel over a plate of hospital nachos. You watching me watching my boy, and understanding that these hurts have got to be gone through with that other Father - God. There is never enough time for father daughter moments these days, but I remember it was just you and me in the solitude of a late night hospital cafeteria having a heart to heart about watching children "grow" their spirits in times of trial and challenge and telling me you would always be there for me.

Thanks dad, Happy Father's Day. I love you.

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