I don’t know if it’s just being circulated over and over in various forms… and I guess it doesn’t really matter that much. And if I am reprinting your poem without permission, I am sorry. I don’t know who you are. But, this really hit home as we prepare for our sweet Abbie’s graduation.
Dear Father: It seems like only yesterday when I addressed the World, to whom I bequeathed one little girl. The scope of my vision has expanded, as has hers. Remember? In a crispy dress…with two blue eyes…and a happy laugh that ripples all day long…and a flash of light blond hair that bounces in the sunlight when she runs.
The dress has been replaced mostly by jeans and T-shirts. But, she did look stunning in her first dress… all crispy and fresh.
Her eyes now sparkle with a special depth; as the possibilities of a world filled with opportunities grows in her imagination.
The happy laugh reaches further, now; an effortless laugh, which bubbles all day like an eternal spring of hope-filled waters.
And, through a wistful squint, I see that little girl of yesteryear is still very much inside the young woman of today. She is the same; yet, oh, so different, these twelve years later. And, yes, you did treat her well. And, taught her well.
She did learn to stand in lines, to wait by the alphabet for her name to be called, to tune her ears for the sounds of school-bells and deadlines. At least, mostly.
She did learn that some people don’t mean what they say, and some people won’t say what they mean. And, that some people can be just plain mean. I’ve held her when the hurt lingers long past the action.
I eagerly harvested a continually growing bounty of Firsts. Writing: first complete alphabet, first complete word, first complete sentence. Tucked in that timeline were other, more endearing firsts: first signed Father’s Day card, first self-written gift tag.
She devoured new challenges and skills with an enthusiastic appetite. First musical instrument, first basket, first goal, first performance. Other firsts balanced these: first friend’s betrayal, first failure to achieve a big goal, first realization that the world must be met with a certain caution.
Through all of this, I trusted you, Lord, and you did treat her well. She learned to meet disappointments and challenges with greater determination. And, this filled her life with many wonderful successes.
And at the end of this chapter of her life, she prepares for graduation. I look at that final school picture, placed carefully next to the previous eleven, and marvel at the blossoming of this young package of promise. She is part of our next generation of leaders, and you did teach her well.
After learning to share her with you, I feel less like I am losing my hold on her, and more like I am setting her free. I promise to be there whenever she needs me, and I stand side by side her many teachers and friends and mentors, as we watch her race towards her newest horizon.
And, on graduation day, before she dashed ahead to join her fellow high school graduates, she quickly turned back, flew into my arms with a hug and kiss, and whispered, “Thanks, Dad. I love you.”