Sunday, January 6, 2013

Daddy's Little Girl

I know that I'm not the only woman out there who grew up as "Daddy's Little Girl". And as all of us who did know that this is a title and a fact that we never outgrow. It's an indisputable fact that once a "Daddy's Little Girl" always one; only thing that changes is we drop the 'Little'. But this beautiful and timeless endearment remains with us for the rest of our lives. It has been said by some smart psychologist or therapist or somebody once said that a girl's first love is her Father, and that she measures the worth of any other man in her romantic life against the standard her Father sets. Because I was raised by a loving, kindhearted and wonderful Father, that is something I am more than willing to subscribe to. He was one in a million, and I believe some women have been searching for someone like their Father their whole lives, but no man has ever been able to come up to par, and I think I now understand the reasons why that is. 

You see, the love of our Fathers is a beautiful and natural thing; an emotion that had powerful attachments that would stand the test of time. His love was unconditional (and for those who are blessed enough to have a living still is) and there were no requirements to meet to earn and sustain this love. He held onto our tiny fingers and toes as infants. The pure unadulterated wonder of the human being he helped to create was the fuel that lit the fire of love in his heart. He held us close as we gurgled and struggled to make our first sounds. He watched in wonder as we grew from infant to toddler, from a little girl to daughter, then to a teenager and finally...into a woman.

Most of the time, our Mothers did the heavy lifting when it came to rearing and advice on growing up. By then the wonder love had grown into a warm fuzzy type of love before settling into a long lasting endearing love; the kind he had for us as an adult. He may have hid himself behind the newspaper, or simply grunted back at us as a way of speaking  but there was no mistaking how a Father felt about his daughter. No doubt about how fiercely he would protect her, or to what ends he would go to for her. He had grown much older himself at the teenage stage of our lives, so he was probably more mellow as a result. But mellow or not; he was no one to be tangled with over the welfare or safety of his little girl.

As a young woman and a young wife myself, I began to learn more about my Father, and just how sweet and important his and my relationship was. We shared a joke or two, and I was able to persuade him to do things my Mother had no success with. her an additional $5 on her household account, or not mowing the lawn at the hottest part of the day...or taking a part of his day off for himself. Toward the end of his precious life, when he was going back and forth to Duke University Hospital for chemotherapy, I was the only one he'd allow to drive him and subsequently when the treatments caused bouts of nausea I was the only one he'd try to eat for. I'd always  reason with him to eat by saying that "it was better that he tried a few bites of solid food, or we'd send him back for liquid jello". For some odd reason, that never failed to work. He would bravely eat a few bites of pizza and was able to keep it down.

My world felt like it had come to an end when he died. Literally. I didn't get to say good-bye to him, he died in the hospital before I could reach him. But one thing I was certain of; he knew I loved him with every fiber of my being. I had been to visit him on a weekly basis at Duke, and his condition had improved considerably. He was scheduled for a corrective surgery the day after he died. His death was as sudden as if he'd never been sick; the doctors were pleased with his progress and had given him a good outlook for the future after the corrective surgery.

That is why it came as such a shocking blow when he started on a steady decline the evening before and despite the massive doses of the most powerful drugs available in 1985 to medicine...he never regained consciousness after he unexpectedly lost it. The doctors could not raise his blood pressure nor sustain his pulse and he left this world on August 23, 1985. That was the day I felt as if my own heart would stop beating because he was gone.

I was married at that time. My husband was a good man. He had earned the stamp of approval from my Daddy when he had asked him for my hand in marriage. You husband had the same unconditional type of love for me. He loved me for who I was, and not for any other reason whatsoever. I didn't have to do anything but get up every day and be ME. He took me as I was, and he cared for me. Kept me safe and provided for me. He was a real man...just like my Daddy. And just like for thirty two years I was Daddy's Girl actively...his absence has not dimmed the meaning of that endearment whatsoever.

I was...always have been...and always will be...Daddy's Girl.

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