Saturday, June 14, 2008

Chips Off the Old Block

In so many posts, I have been clear about my son, but in honor of Father’s Day, I would like to speak to the rest of my family. I am blessed with two and a half daughters, the oldest being no less a part of my heart, but just lacking the physical blood (now we know it is DNA) that makes her so.
At the dawning age of 23, so confident that I knew what I was doing, I chose to become a husband to a mother of daughters aged 15 and 2, and pregnant with one of our own. Poised on the edge of a world of opportunity, raised with strong family values, I turned to fatherhood for definition and direction.

Too old from the start to be considered a daughter, I have witnessed the eldest’s growth into an amazing woman of strength, courage, advocation (she’s a lawyer!), and motherhood. If I had any part in her successes, I can only point with pride to the fact she married the man who came to our house to play music with me. Divided by distance, I have never met their children, nor seen their daily lives, but we are Family all the same.

My oldest daughter was 20 months old when I first saw her and we bonded as I had known no stranger’s child before or since. When her father suddenly died, she leaped into my lap, trusted me enough to fall asleep in my arms, and played in the sandbox I built. Such fine adventures we shared on long, long walks through the fairyland forests of Oregon, punctuated by endless exhilarating flights over the ocean cliff at our favorite swing.

Today, still in Oregon, she refurbishes gold jewelry, repairs her small home and yard, and heals herself from the loss of two fathers in her childhood. Again separated by distance, we use the phone to catch up on those lost years and share the pleasures of these new ones. And as any proud father should be allowed to drop a name, her partnership with a member of the Foo Fighters crew provides backstage adventures for us all.

Nothing is middle about my middle daughter. Few words are possible to describe the sweet combination of exuberance, unconditional love, determination, and golden heart that is the aura of her existence. Never a tentative stepper, even on her first legs at 9 months, I have affectionately called her “my little tank”. At 5, she boldly stepped onto stages to sing a sound check at our local performances, and her sweet voice rings through in videos of Cyndi Lauper imitations.

Who could not grin in delight and amazement at the 10 year old unaccompanied minor who stepped off the plane in a silver skirt, pink scarf, tiara, and high heeled pumps, even as I tearfully loaded her back on that plane a week later, helpless to know she was just out of reach, sobbing before take-off home to her real life?

She has finished college on the nine year plan, a testament to perseverance through the distractions of living. She eloped with a Navy man who won our hearts quickly afterward by bravely crossing the Continent alone to knock on our door and introduce himself. She is heart and soul a gift to this lucky father.

Today, my youngest daughter graduated from High School, steps boldly out into the world with excitement and strength. Naturally uncomfortable with the upheaval between her parents, she is a rock of self-support, a young woman who pursues and achieves exactly what she wants, and is compassionate glue to a wealth of friends. I witness her life accelerating, proud of her accomplishments, her confidence to embrace her future at University.

On this day, with 3 of the 4 of them on a blanket laughing in the sunshine with me, I am so moved to be a father, so humbled by the gift of these beautiful souls in my life, so grateful to celebrate my children. For the first time, this day truly rings forth with my own appreciation: not to reward myself as a father, but to acknowledge the true Love in life that comes with being a father. I grew up with 4 sisters, and now my son says the same (even though he has never met the eldest!)--we are such lucky men!

Please share with your friends


Hayden Tompkins said...

Wow, what an amazing family you have. I absolutely love your description of 'the tank'!

Happy Father's Day, Kip.

Anonymous said...

Happiness is family and you have that in abundance.

There were tears in my eye when I read this. Being a father of five I can sure appreciate this.


Kip de Moll said...

Yes, it has truly been an amazing and emotional weekend, followed, of course, by the natural and horrible result of putting "The Tank-turned-into-Lady" onto the plane, and coming home to the "empty nest", still littered with the puzzle, cards, albums and dirty dishes of her visit. The 4 of us played a round of golf yesterday (I never would have believed it!)
Thanks for sharing your tears of joy.