On a Hill, Overlooking a Strawberry Farm

I stood on that hill overlooking the pond at the strawberry farm; there had been a few small rain drops and a slight threat of rain, so I flippantly stated we were going to go ahead with the ceremony in spite of the threat to those who’d gathered to witness the union between me and my love. The air was sweet, and the breeze light, flowing through the trees with a subtle hush. From behind me the sultry, honest tones of a cello and the yearning, mellow notes from a violin danced in my ear. I looked into the eyes of many of my friends, some of whom I’ve not seen in a while and some far longer. I glanced back to my left and then to my right to see the confident smile in my sons face and my lovely daughter’s who’ve chosen to share in this moment with me, they didn’t have to, but it means the world to me that they came together to celebrate as members of Shira and my wedding party, and waiting proud and graceful, the maid of honor. Then my eyes went to the sky, to the clouds over the fields around us, I thought of how beautiful this day has turned out to be, how proud my father might be of me and how I wished he were alive to be here, to share in this moment.

My palms began to sweat and my mind was awash with thoughts of fantasy and wonder at what the future might bring for my bride and me. As the ring bearers, handsome and proper took their seats and the flower girl made her way up the aisle, meandering and innocently curious what all the fuss was about as she dropped rose petals onto the cool green grass, I noticed a flock of blackbirds take sudden flight from the trees above us.

There was a moment of quiet, short and daunting, and from the guests seated there came a murmuring, then shallow gasps as they all turned around. Abruptly a quiet ringing entered my ear, a new song began to play and then everything was silent but for the guttural and fluid sounds of the beating of my own heart. And there, from behind a grand oak tree stepped out the most wondrous sight, the image of all that is good and decent and strong and magnificent, I was floored, as I watched her step to the back of the seats, I looked at her and nothing else in the world mattered to me in that moment. She stood elegant, poised in her wedding dress, and I just soaked in her image, her lips and her face.

Then, from somewhere deep inside of me a small boy, one whose been hiding for so long, slowly climbed down from his tree, stepped out onto the shoreline along the river and cast upon the cool dark waters his sail boat without care. He stood and watched as the small craft that’d been docked for so long, waiting for him, glided freely on the current, swiftly out of site. When the boy turned and looked at me I knew him, I felt him and as he stepped away, leaving no tracks in the sand I didn’t fall apart, I was no longer afraid, I no longer felt alone. Instead I felt empowered and free.

My heart had stopped but for a minute, I wanted to run to her when the tears began to roll along her cheeks, but she came to me, in the arms of her mother and her father, under a beautiful sky, amongst friends and family, she came to me and took my hand and we looked at each other, we saw each other, we shared in that moment all of our hopes and dreams and embraced a new beginning for each other, for us together. Everything appeared to be perfect, she seemed perfect, but with all of it stripped away, the people, the hill, the sun and the exquisite clothes, the symphony of pomp and circumstance, it was just us, alone and together, with our hearts and souls in each other’s arms. It was altogether, simply and extravagantly beautiful. It was indeed perfect.

 

An Open Letter to another Father

From one father to another, shame on you Sir. You have abandoned your daughter during a time when she has made what may be one her greatest decisions, one based on love, unencumbered, selfless and undeterred love.

Don’t you know she dreams of you; she thinks of you and wishes she could be held by you.

Her days are spent sharing a life with someone she has fallen deeply in love with, someone whom offers her irrefutable devotion.

She loves this man because he works hard, seeks to be a better person each day than he was the day before and not because he has been bad but because she deserves the best he can offer.

Don’t you know she sought this man out as all little girls do, seeking someone she can trust, someone she respects, someone whom treats her to a world she dreamt of, one where she is greeted each morning with kisses, each night with satisfaction that she has found the man she wants to spend the rest of her life with?

Are you so wrapped up in your own sense of sadness that your little girl has not followed the path you thought she ought to but instead, has taken her path in her own hands and has become a healthy, successful, woman whose got her sights set on a man whom you have much in common with Sir?

Don’t you know, that some days when he looks into her eyes, that he sees the yearning of a daughter to be called upon by her father to witness her happiness, to celebrate with her what makes her most happy and he sees her heart breaking, everyday that her father refuses to speak to her.

I say again, Sir, shame on you. Is it not our jobs as fathers to see that our little girls grow up happy, that when the day comes she meets that guy, that you are there to hear that she loves him, that he adores her and that she knows, we as their fathers shall always be there for them, that we will always have a spot not just in our hearts but in our homes as well where they can come back to. That we must not abandon them because they didn’t fulfill some ideal we had set in our minds for them, that as women, they have stood up for themselves and taken charge of their lives to become grown, successful, healthy and loved?

Do not let her pass by without reaching out, she needs your love too, she also has fears, questions and apprehensions as we all do. And it’s your job as her father, as her daddy, to send her out with confidence that you will be ok, that you will stand behind her and support her, that you will not close your eyes and punish her for what makes her happy, or shun her because her heart has chosen a different path, but instead celebrate with her before she is gone for good.

Grateful Memories

As I gaze out at the parking lot from my desk and cringe at the howling February wind and blowing snow, my mind wanders to last summer.

I close my eyes and I’m back on my bike, the wind rushing past my ears, the sun caressing my neck and my daughters arms around my waist as we cruise through the black hills of South Dakota.

As I lean into the tight turns of Needles Highway I glance to the side of the road and see my little girls shadow and my heart sings out, to be here, now, with her is a dream I lived out and how awesome is that.

We spent many days riding around the plains and the valleys, climbing around the granite hills of Mount Rushmore and even got caught in a hail storm entering the Cathedral at the pinnacle of Sylvan Lake Road. There we stopped and stood in awe at the towering spires thrusting skyward through the dense mist.

We enjoyed ice cream in Deadwood, got chased away by a 2,000 pound hungry looking Bison, and fed wild donkeys in Custer State Park.

We spent hours riding ribbons of black road through vast miles of Badlands, hiding from pouring rain under bridges and playing Rummy Five Hundred in the cool, early mornings at a KOA in Rapid City.

We ate canned tuna and wieners on sticks by a camp fire as the sun dove beyond the horizon on our last night in camp. The next day we rode for hundreds of miles home, all the while tears filling my eyes because we are heading back and I have loved this time with my little girl so much.

How lucky am I to have had this time with her, she’s growing up now, becoming a fully fledged woman and I couldn’t be any prouder than I am right now. I’m grateful for that time, thankful for our having the opportunity there to share it with each other.

The Breaking of a Father’s Heart

When she smiles his whole world lights up and his mind goes blank,

his heart slows and he wishes all time would stop and let him see her like that forever.

Her eyes sparkle and her skin becomes radiant, when she smiles.

 

When he thinks of her when she’s gone he can’t wait to see her again,

he misses her and tries to think of reasons to text her just to say hi.

Would a man dare become a father if he knew how much his life would change,

Would he back away and try and protect his heart from breaking all the time?

Could he walk away, knowing that on the darkest days, when storms rush all around him,

And he’s cold and afraid, that his daughter can make everything disappear with a simple “hello daddy”?

 

Once committed, a father‘s heart never stops getting broken, from the day his little tiny girl gets on that big ‘ol bus, to the day she drives away all by herself in the car, he worries about her, he thinks about her.

 

He can no longer protect her, he doesn’t get to hold her hand and walk her in to school.

He can only wait for her to come home, and when she does his heart breaks all over again.

The Chase

When I leave work on my bike I leave behind all the stressful things.

I cruise home with the sun to my back and the wind in my face, and fly along the highway as though I have wings.

I slow down on the street out front of my house, my tail pipes rumble and I twist the throttle just a little to make ‘em sound off a bit more.

As I round the corner for the alley, I see my Georgia clear the stairs heading for the garage, racing to get ahead of me and as I pull onto the drive there she is, smiles and all having reached it just before.

With an outstretched hand she begs for the key, she opens the door and waits patiently as I stow away my bike, take off my helmet and then I see her staring intently at me.

She has one foot out the door, her back is facing me, her delicate little fingers wrapped around the molding, she waits, she’s impatient and I stall.

Just then, I take a step towards her and she bolts, before I get to the back yard she has rounded the side of the house and leaped over the first garden.

This is how it goes when I come home from work in the summer, I can barely keep up in my leather jacket and riding boots in comparison to her naked little feet, but as I gain on her she begins to giggle uncontrollably and her knees buckle and I fall on top of her and we both tumble and roll in the grass laughing.

There are few things in the world that can make a man’s heart completely fall apart and run like water, but for the unequivocal love and devotion of his youngest daughter.