I never considered myself one of those princess-type daughters and I most certainly never thought of myself as daddy's little girl. Yet once I turned 50, I have rethought all manner of things about my life. In those revelations, I have determined that I have a special kind of relationship with my dad and I am so blessed to have him in my life still.
When I was younger, my dad was always there, in the background, watching over me. When I first learned to skate, he was there holding my hand.
After my high school graduation, he was there for me, driving me to Eastern Michigan University three days a week. On our trips home, he would tell me all the escapades of his CB pals. I would be so exhausted after a long day of classes and a couple hours working at the bookstore, that I would collapse into the passenger seat of his yellow Rabbit. He loved that car so much he even took on the CB handle of Bugs Bunny. As I sat, slumped and in a semi-vegetative state in his car, he suddenly hiss, "What's that!" and point in front of me, scaring me half to death. Sometimes he would suddenly scratch his fingernails on the knee of my jeans, making a noise about as pleasant as nails on a chalkboard. Yes, my dad would annoy me, but it was the most pleasant annoyance ever known.
Later, when my mom put him on a diet, he and I would secretly stop and get ice cream on the way home. "Shhh, don't tell mom," he would whisper to my nodded approval. When I was 20 we would occasionally stop at the bar for happy hour, and his workmates would buy me a drink or two. Again, this was not to be any of my mother's business. This was strictly between father and daughter.
My dad was always there in the background. He walked me down the aisle twice. He visited me in California, Michigan, and Texas. On one particularly interesting occasion, we had gone on a long fall color drive in Michigan and we stopped to get soda. I tossed a $1 at him and he kept refusing to take it. We tossed it back and forth over the car seat until finally he relented. The next weekend my parents came over to play Pinochle and toward the end of the game he retreated to the bathroom for quite a long time. We were concerned something was wrong when he came out and wanted to leave right away. Wouldn't you know that evening I found that dollar bill wrapped up in my toilet paper roll, made to look as if nothing had been touched. Soon that dollar found itself taped to the outside of their 2nd floor bedroom window, mailed to me when I moved to California, relocated back to Michigan in my mother's oven mitt just before Christmas. After that, the bill was gone. I'm convinced he has it somewhere waiting for me 20 years later.
My dad was there when my mother had her heart attacks. And in March I was able to visit them for nearly two weeks to help out. During this time I found a beautiful pillow which I placed on his bed before I left.
I also stayed up late the night before I left, leaving them notes in their puzzle books. Two weeks later, when my dad found his special note in the Sudoku book, he returned it to me with his own special note.
Since then, every call we end with, "I love you more!" This week I had sent my mother a box full of pretzel bags because she was complaining she couldn't find the ones with cheese in the middle, and at the same time my father sent me a little surprise.
When the doorbell rang today, the postman left a box full of my dad's old socks, and a special little note to tell me how much he loves me.
I have come to realize that I am indeed my daddy's little girl after all.