“Just come to the Villa to pick up the Keys if you arrive early” Dad says.
Dad knows that I know that he’s showing me off a little. I had taken extra care with my hair and make-up, just to be sure that he was proud. I sneak up behind him, wrap my arms around his shoulders in a hug, laying my cheek on his head.
I smile as his hand covers mine. Just like that I am transported back to being Daddy’s little girl, his beautiful first daughter. Never mind that his hand covering mine is gnarled and arthritic; and that my hair at fifty-nine is a white as anyone else’s in the room.
I pretend not to hear the murmuring “That’s Charlie’s Daughter, isn’t she lovely?”…and laugh when I hear him gleefully telling his Bridge cohorts as we leave the card room: “She drives that electrical car thing and, you know, they have to stop and charge halfway…” Of course, I parked by the window.
Dad. He’s always been one of the one of two people on Earth (the other my Husband) who always makes me feel loved, cherished and beautiful.
Never a man of effusive words and praise, more often than not you would find Dad giggling at some kind of situational pun over handing out compliments. I would twirl in my outfits in front of him: Easter dresses; school dresses; Prom dresses; Ball gowns; Business suits. With just a nod and smile from Dad I would be the Beautiful Princess in the room, no words necessary.
Somehow the man of few words always knew just what to say. “You’re beautiful, I love you. Are you sure about this…?” Dad whispered to me as he held my shaking arm at the top of the aisle at my Wedding. I laughed through tears at the unexpected declaration and even more unexpected (and way too late) question.
“You look fine” he would tell my snotty tear-streaked teen-aged face as he handed me a candy bar and a twenty-dollar bill. This after some breakup or a particularly painful drubbing by Mom. “Grab your friends and go to the movies”. I didn’t need extra words to know that I had Dad’s support and that I would always be beautiful no matter what.
Dad was rarely vulnerable, but when Mom passed suddenly, he asked me to stay with him after everyone had left. He surprised me by introducing me with praise as I attended meetings with him or opened his door to visiting Friends. “This is my lovely oldest Daughter” he would say, or “She has a really big job” (I don’t actually). He would talk about where I volunteered, or something that my Kids had done. I found myself again Dad’s cherished, loved, beautiful, not-so-little girl.
Too soon our visit is over and it’s time to leave. We played cards, talked, drank good wine, ate way too much. I rushed to keep up with him on a one-mile walk. Dad is doing well at eighty-eight.
“I’m not going to be around forever” Dad starts, “I have a plan and I need your help”
His plan is to share some funds with us Kids to enjoy, and he wants us to show him what we do with it. It’s important, very sweet, and very Dad.
“I’m IN” I tell him, glad to be asked to help.
“Treat yourself to something that makes you feel beautiful” he suggests.
I smile and try to hide my tears…I am anguished at even a glimmer of the thought of Dad not being here.
I don’t need anything beautiful, just Dad making me feel loved, cherished.