I blame the wedding for all of this. The royal one, I mean. William and Kate, the Duke and Dutchess of…something or other. Yes, it’s all their fault.
I share part of the blame, of course. I didn’t have to record their nuptials, even if my daughter looked at me with those pleading eyes and asked me to do so. And I didn’t have to let her see the ceremony. Or the pretty white dress. Or the fancy church or the waving crowds and the first kiss.
Didn’t have to. But I did.
Those pleading eyes are going to get me into trouble someday.
Now I have to deal with the aftermath of all this. Since then, my little girl (MINE, mind you) has been all atwitter about her own wedding.
She’s made lists. Many lists. What kind of dress she will wear, where the ceremony will be, what sorts of flowers, what colors. She even told me I should go ahead and put in for vacation now, just in case I won’t be able to in fifteen years or so.
My answer to that—all that—was the sort of “Humph” that is code for “You better start talking about something else in the next five seconds.”
Because despite race or age or ethnicity or faith (or lack thereof), all fathers share this one thing in common—they will always see their daughters as little girls. Their little girls.
Daughter and I are in the truck, on the way home from a stop at Lowe’s. Conversation is both light and shallow, touching upon school and work and writing.
Then, “Daddy, when I get married I think I want it to be outside.”
“Nothing,” I said.
I looked at her in the rearview mirror. Her eyes were thoughtful. “Do you think that’s a good idea?”
“What if it rains?” I asked.
“I hadn’t thought about that.”
“I don’t think you need to be pondering such things. Plenty to do between now and then.”
“But I ponder it a lot,” she said.
I looked away and through the windshield. Fiddled with the radio. Rolled the windows down a little more. Anything to distract her, to get her mind off a subject I had no desire whatsoever to elaborate upon. And, truth be known, I thought that maybe it would have been better if my son were sitting in the backseat of the truck and not her. Because we would be talking about baseball and dirt and mulch. I understood those things. Those things, I could freely talk about.
“I wonder where he is,” she said.
“Where who is?”
“The boy I’m going to marry.”
I doubt I can fully describe the magnitude of what she said. Suffice it to say it was enough for all the blood in my body to succumb to dread and pool in the toes of my boots. My arms went numb, my vision fuzzy. And I swear my heart stopped beating.
I’d never thought of that. I’d never paused and considered the fact that the boy my daughter will someday marry is alive right now. Growing up, just like her.
“I don’t know, honey.”
We drive home in silence, each of us staring out the nearest window. Thinking about him.
For my daughter, I have no doubt her thoughts revolved around how handsome he was and how kind. How he was perhaps a farmer or a scientist or a teacher.
For me, I thought more of who he would be than what, and what his parents were doing about all of that right now. Were they teaching him about honor and respect? Responsibility and hard work? Were they instructing him of the proper way to treat a woman? Were they slowly indoctrinating him to the truth that life is a hard thing and that love is a fragile one?
I hoped so.
Because one day the little girl in the backseat of my truck—my little girl—will be shared with someone else. The heart she has given me will be his. She will lean on him and love him and trust him, not in the same way she does with me now, but in a way similar.
The radio station went from commercial to a song we both knew. George Strait is a favorite in our home. He sang, I hummed. My daughter hummed, too. And when he reached the chorus, we both sang.
And I said, Let me tell you a secret about a fathers love,
A secret that my daddy said was just between us.
He said daddies don’t just love their children every now and then,
It’s a love without end, amen.