I took a short walk today, but it was years in the creating.
I took the first step and found myself pacing the halls of Sarasota Memorial Hospital. It was a Monday night, Murphy Brown was on the television and she was having her baby. How appropriate. She was lucky, she popped little Avery out in thirty minutes. For my dear wife, it took a bit longer, but shortly after midnight on 19 of May, at 12:34 pm, to be precise, she had our child.
I took the next step and was on stage at Lemon Bay Playhouse in Englewood. I was appearing in the play “Bear Witness,” as the dad. My wife directing, and our little girl made her premiere appearance as little baby Penny. Talk about nepotism! Yet, my daughter was a trooper. She never cried on stage, and the audience melted at one look, one smile from her.
The next step found me at her daycare. My daughter loved it when I’d come to bring her home. The other kids always wanted me to pick them up. As I’m quite tall, they saw me as the gentle giant and it was fun for them to be so high in the air. Every evening, as she got undressed, she seemed to have a pound of sand in her shoes. We could have filled a sandbox with what she brought home.
Speaking of a sandbox, my next step took me to our new home in North Port and her sandbox and swing set in the backyard. Her grandparents had bought it, and it, of course, came in a thousand and one pieces. It made me laugh to see her, so sure, as to how they all went together. No doubts, no hesitation, she tried desperately to do it all herself.
We took a step down a short flight of steps and I thought of the steps up to Toledo Blade Elementary School. She was in kindergarten, when someone first noticed her talents. She not only excelled at her studies, she was also quite the dancer. She came up with her own little routine set to the tune of “Music Box Dancer” and performed it in the school show.
I took a step into the humane society, in Port Charlotte, where I saw a cute little dog named Shakespeare. I thought him a wonderful addition to the family, although there was some concern as to how Snow White, our cat would react to him.
As it turned out, someone else took Shakespeare home. Our daughter was quite upset. So my wife took her to another place, where she found a dog she loved even more. Yes, she named him Shakespeare. In time, we would have a Romeo, a Juliet and a rat named Nosey.
My next step was a long one: our move to Orlando, which entailed so much change to our lives. There was a new home, new friends and a new school for our daughter, Lake Eola Charter School. There she truly found friends and knowledge for a lifetime. She participated in so much: a space simulation, Destination Imagination, girl scouts, bowling, basketball, fencing and on and on. Hers was and I truly a life full of wonders and joy.
Stepping into our car, there came the time when my daughter learned to drive, which meant she would no longer need me to take her places. With that period in her life came something even more dangerous: dating! Men callers now appeared at our door, but they were always quite well behaved. I would learn later that there was no need for me to do the old “Son, you ever kill a man with your bare hands?” routine. My daughter had told them about the sniper training of my youth, and after that, they were all very good boys.
Our next step brought us to our destination, and took my back to the day she went off to college. The drive to campus had been far too short, and the return seemed doubly long. It was during that step that she didn’t merely step into the world, but also found love in the arms of a fine young man.
The rabbi instructed me to kiss my daughter. I did so, my wife did likewise and then I took the last step, the hardest step. I stepped back; I stepped away from my baby. I let go, letting her move forward with her life and the new man in the journey that will be their lives together.
Yet, joy tempers my sadness, joy at knowing that whatever path they choose they will be happy together. As a final parting gift to them both, I arranged something special at the end of their wedding ceremony. My daughter loves the move, “Love, Actually,” and so I arranged for an a Cappella group to come and sing, “All You Need is Love,” for them. The joy in their faces was all I needed to make my life complete.
I took a short walk today, but it was a lifetime in the creating and it was the single proudest moment of my life.
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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