“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand. “ Randy Pausch
This post is dedicated to all of the young people I love and admire for how far they have come.
Wedding preparations were underway, and as the big day got closer the father became more and more emotional. He would listen for hours to songs for their father-daughter dance, silently crying his eyes out. He was desperate to choose the right song, so that she would know just how special she was to him.
He went back and forth on whether he should have a kilt made in the family name, and in the end chose to do it. It was meaningful to him. She would be taking a married name, and he wanted her to have pictures with her roots firmly in place.
Even as he sat quietly weeks before the wedding, you could see the wheels turning. Where had the time gone, he would muse. Would she be changing her name? Do you suppose we will be grandparents then? I could see that even when I wasn’t aware, he was pondering what would be. To him, she would always be that little girl with ponytails.
He had been watching over the years to make sure that things were right; he had taught his son to ensure that his baby sister was taken care of by anyone she met. He then sat back and watched the band of brothers, interrogate any potential suitors. He watched this with pride and assurance that things would end up well. Then she chose her own, and he passed the tests. Everyone agreed, we couldn’t have done better ourselves. The Father would say I am so very proud of my son. What a man he has become. He more than anyone, taught his sister that she should settle for no less than the best. And she had picked the best, he had faith in that.
And then the day arrived, and we both walked her down the aisle. And as we started our ascent, he looked at his baby girl, and said “Stuff is getting real now baby girl!” It filled my heart with joy, and fresh tears sprung to my eyes.
A prouder man there could never be, knowing that she had chosen so well. Knowing that his little girl had the self-confidence to carry her through anything that life could send her way. He had made sure she knew how very special she was, and that would now have to carry her. And as tears choked his throat he handed her to the man that he was entrusting to take care of his angel for the rest of her days.
I watched all of this with sheer wonder and amazement. Initially I hadn’t understood, didn’t know why he was thinking things out to this degree. And I realized because I hadn’t seen it, I had never experienced being Daddy’s little girl. But I understood clearly in that moment, what it meant to be Daddy’s little angel. What a lucky girl she was.
As the night progressed and I watched the love that filled the room, I realized that I too had raised this self-assured young lady. That I had raised a woman who stood tall in her own self-worth. That I had in fact somehow managed to teach her what it meant to be somebody’s angel and to expect it. My heart filled with pride.
And I looked around the room, at some of the young women that I love so dearly, who I know life had dealt a different set of cards. Some of them had parents that left too soon, were disengaged or unable to support or protect them because they had their own sets of problems. I had known these girls for years, saw the broken little part of them that was much the same as mine. But I saw them for the strong young women they were, growing their self-confidence bit by bit on their own. Saw them coming to the place that they acknowledged their worth, learning to treat themselves well. They were doing it on their own. My heart filled with pride for the glorious young lady that I had the honor of raising, the son that taught her that she was only worthy of the best, and also for the ones I loved that life had offered a different route yet they had flourished.
And I was filled with pride at all that they are, despite not having been dealt the fair cards. My heart burst with pride in them. And I wanted to grab each one of them and tell them, I couldn’t be prouder of you in this moment.
And with gratitude, I realized that I was strong, that I was worthy and that I had been successful in managing well with whatever cards life dealt me and so would they.
Happy Father’s Day