“A daughter needs a dad to be the standard against which she will judge all men.” ~unknown.
One of my life’s greatest blessings is to have a dad like mine. He’s quiet, a man of few words, a man with flaws, a man of great achievement. My dad is a man with vulnerabilities accompanied by a deep, quiet strength. To me, he is the one man whom I’ve always known loves me with all of his heart. I see it in his eyes, and I feel it in his hugs. We don’t see each other often enough because of the great distance between us geographically, so when we see each other and then have to say good-bye, his eyes well with tears. I may never know what words he’d like to express that he struggles to find. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that I feel pure, unconditional love.
Another of my life’s great blessings is being in the front row (back seat, close sidelines…whatever you want to call it) witnessing my husband and my daughter’s unique and very special father-daughter relationship.
As I write this, they are two days into a 9-day backpacking adventure in Utah and Nevada, culminating in a hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, sleeping in a tent, and then hiking back up, a gift from Brian to Lauren, to celebrate her achieving her Master’s Degree and before she moves to Pennsylvania (too soon) to gain her Ph.D. Yes, they asked me to come along. And part of me would love to be there. But most of me is glad that they are with just each other. (I also think they really wanted me along to carry some of the load!) And as much as I love to travel and enjoy a good hike, what they do when they hike is not my cup of tea. They’d hate me by the end of it, whining and complaining about a sore back, sore feet, and heat.
You see, Brian and Lauren are truly “two peas in a pod.” They see the world through a similar lens. If there is a mountain, they want to climb it. If there is a marathon, they will run it. If there is a job to be done, it will be done, mapped out, planned in detail, and fully executed. Neither of them want for anything in life but to work hard, love family, be outdoors, and push themselves to limits I cannot even dream of. And worth noting, Brian has raised her to believe that there is not a thing that a man can do that a woman cannot. She, too, is as strong as her brothers. Fiercely independent, yet sweetly vulnerable.
The bond that they have strengthened through multiple backpacking trips over the past 10 years, running marathons together, is one that no one can ever break. The conversations and the unspoken experiences they have shared cement them together. They will be glued to each other until death do them part.
But it’s really not these great adventures they take together that make the inside of my heart and guts turn and bring tears to my eyes. It’s the many, many Saturday and Sunday mornings they have shared over the last several years, as Lauren has been returning home on weekends. Both early risers, they are up well before me, and I can count on waking, grabbing my cup of coffee, and looking out the picture window at the back of my house to find them wandering through the yard and gardens chatting. They talk about everything: politics, future plans, relationships, finances. It doesn’t matter. Just seeing them be together so easily…I honestly don’t have the words to describe. When I eventually join them, the tenor changes. It’s still good, and Lauren and I have our own unique relationship, but I often feel like the ”red-headed stepchild”, awkwardly plowing into a conversation I have no business joining. I have to believe that I add some element of something to their moments. They certainly laugh at and with me a lot!
This is not a negative. Not at all. It’s all good. There’s just this unexplainable thing about a father and a daughter. Some of you reading this will nod and understand, (I can see the smile forming on your lips). Some of you long for this and may never have it or will ever know it. This is not uncommon in this world, which to me makes my husband and daughters’ relationship that much more special.
They will be home in a week, with pictures and stories, and I will feel that small nudge of jealousy? Or maybe angst that I wasn’t “brave” enough to go along? But mostly I will feel full in my heart knowing that they have something great, something that will carry Lauren through many journeys in her life ahead. A daughter needs a dad like this. I’m thankful that mine has this.