He said the minute he held her, he knew his reason for being:
To be her daddy.
They married young. He was in law enforcement and she was a young professional.
For years in their marriage, she struggled with an unbeatable addiction to prescription medication. It was the skeleton in their closet. He did his best to keep drugs off the streets but yet couldn’t keep them out of his own home.
He begged. He threatened. He made ultimatums.
He kept thinking maybe she’ll out grow it. Maybe she’ll just stop? Maybe she’ll get tired of the struggle? Maybe she’ll stop lying about it? Maybe she’ll stop hiding it? Maybe she’ll stop draining the bank account for it?
Rehab after rehab after rehab. No such luck.
After many prayers of “Why me?” and “What did I do to deserve this life?” and “How do I keep keeping on like this?”…they discovered a baby was on the way.
He felt confident this was the love she needed to get her life straight.
And she did. For nine months only.
When their baby girl was 10 months old, he could no longer tolerate coming home from a full day on the job, to a crying baby in soiled diapers and the same pajamas she slept in the night before. With her mom asleep, or actually, passed out…on the couch.
She chose to return to her addiction.
For months, he was doing those middle of the night feedings. He was bathing, warming bottles, and loving his little girl.
At 18 months old, that little girl was packed up and her daddy started them a new life.
Just the two of them.
He was going to do all he could to protect her and give her the best life he could.
For many years, he worked the crime in the streets while his little girl was in day care. No help from the mother. She was nowhere to be found.
No child support. No phone calls. No letters in the mail.
He potty-trained. He taught how to eat with a spoon. He took her from a crib to a big girl bed.
He saved his sick days so he could stay home with his baby girl when she was sick.
He rocked her in his recliner while she cried and rushed her to the bathroom when she was sick. After days of no sleep and a much better feeling baby girl, he called his mom to come stay over long enough for him to sleep a few hours, then go back to work.
He walked her to her class her first day of kindergarten. He took her camping.
He coached her softball team.
He removed training wheels.
He trimmed bangs. He knotted up pony-tails. He tied ribbons.
He called out spelling words. He asked for vocabulary definitions.
He sat bedside when the tonsils came out.
He had “the talk.”
He stayed up late for Santa. He made sure the Easter Bunny came.
He planned birthday parties.
He took her to church. He taught her about Jesus. He exemplified compassion, understanding and patience.
He has given unending love.
As she has grown, he has had to adjust from her being his baby girl to her now being his young lady.
He has taken her skiing.
He attends choir programs. He cheers at softball games. He picks her up from school at 4:15 pm.
Now…he is teaching her to drive.
He is suggesting longer skirts.
He is woefully approving of high heels.
He is unsure of her eye shadow.
He is paying a cell phone bill.
He is teaching her about money.
He is helping with college-credit accounting homework.
He is planning for college.
He is reprimanding her and grounding her.
From that same recliner he rocked her to sleep in, he rocked her while she cried in, and rocked her while she kissed his cheek.
Many years ago.
He’s been her coach, her tutor, her warden, her protector, her therapist.
Her doctor, her stylist, her travel agent, her chauffeur, her chef.
Her leader, her follower, her sidekick.
Her biggest fan.
Her one and only.
He’s even been her mother.
But he will always, always be her Daddy.
Happy Father’s Day, Keith.
YOU did it.