I remember when Holly, our oldest, was about two years old. Whenever my schedule permitted I would drive over to the GM Tech Center, where my husband was employed, and we would wait for him at the end of his workday. Holly and I would stand at the end of the long pathway, and I would watch as Holly's eyes excitedly scanned all who passed through the doorway, until that wondrous moment when the father she adored would finally appear. Then, as fast as her tiny toddler's legs would carry her, she would race with her curls flying wildly in the wind until, with great joy, she would be caught up into her father's waiting arms. It was a sight so enchanting, that any others on the pathway would turn to watch the moment unfold along with me, and comment on the sweetness of the love the two of them, quite obviously, shared.
Neither the passage of years, nor the growing number of daughters did anything to diminish my husband's love for his girls. To him, each was perfect; their successes were to be savored, and their transgressions overlooked. This, of course, led to me becoming the disciplinarian of the family, and, as sometimes happens as children grow older, the exchanges between the disciplinarian and those who are being disciplined, occasionally, grows heated. If Dave was present I would be sure to hear a plaintive plea from him that he wished we would all stop fighting. I would remind him in a very loud voice that, when an adult disciplines a child, it is not called fighting; it is called parenting... but my efforts would be to no avail. To him their goodness outweighed any wrongdoing, regardless of the situation.
In the heat of the moment I would shake my head in frustration but, later, when I was alone, I would often find myself smiling, as I thought to myself, "I bet my father would have loved me that much, too. He would have always been on my side, no matter what."
What Dave lacked as a disciplinarian, he made up for as a proud papa. I remember a time, a few years back, when Dave had gone to the bank to inquire about a home equity loan. On his second trip back I came along to sign all the paperwork with him. As we sat down to wait for our representative Dave took out a PILE of pictures of the girls.
"What are those for?" I asked with astonishment.
"Oh, Kathy wanted me to bring them. I told her all about the girls last time, so she wanted to see their pictures."
"Are you crazy?" I asked, in disbelief. "This lady doesn't want to see pictures of our kids. She doesn't even know us."
Just then the woman sat down.
"Oh good!" she said. "I was hoping you would remember to bring those." I shook my head, in resignation.
Along with his ever present pile of pictures, he has been known to make copies of the girls' report cards, not just for the grandparents, but for his coworkers, as well. Somehow they must find his pride endearing though because, whenever I see them, they always seem so genuinely happy about the girls' achievements. For all I know there are hundreds of General Motor's workers with copies of my daughters' report cards proudly displayed on all of their refrigerators.
His three oldest girls moved out earlier this year... so other houses are the places they now call home. Our youngest daughter, Olivia, will be leaving for college in the fall, and the swiftness of these endings has been hard for him to bear. I see him sometimes as he hangs his head, while sitting on his chair in the kitchen.
"I miss my girls, Amy. I wish they were still all at home."....and, for a moment, I live vicariously through his love for his daughters. I imagine what it would feel like to have a father who missed me that much... and, I can tell you, I think it must be wonderful. I am lucky to have married such a man, and my daughters are even luckier to have had him as their father.