I am rich, very rich, in daughters

I am rich, very rich, in daughters.
Betty Ann, Jen, Amy and Rebecca
I am rich, very rich, in daughters

Each child, all three and all girls came into our lives at intervals back in the 1970’s. So as I reflect upon the joys, mysteries and occasional challenges of being a dad, my memories span decades and over time have woven into a vibrant tapestry that is still being shaped today. Time, as we know, has a way of smoothing out the scariest and most difficult moments of parenting. Yet whether it was illness, injury, emotional hurts or those fright-filled forty-five seconds when a daughter went missing at the mall, as a dad I have been blessed to parent alongside a terrific woman and wife for the past forty-four years. I am convinced beyond doubt that parenting in partnership in every way has made me a better father and a dad to our girls. For sure, I am rich, very rich, in daughters.

As a dad and being a parent to adult children is in itself a peculiar and marvelous kind of relationship. One minute I find myself remembering the child who once mastered the playground and the next moment my daughter, now in her mid-thirties is detailing her upcoming trip abroad with her work.  There are subtle moments, too, when as dad, my role is to listen, support, sometimes suggest, comfort or simply be present non-verbally to any one of our daughters should the need arise. And there are times, to my amazement actually, when they as full-fledged adults, are in so many words, or by their actions, are letting me know that I should be listening to them and accepting their advice. I may not always agree with their message to me but I know that I love them more deeply for it.

I especially cherish three major life events with each of my daughters. And it is one that very few fathers have the opportunity to experience. All three are married now, and because I am a Friends Minister, each daughter and the men they were engaged to asked me to officiate at their wedding. Their mom, not me, walked each daughter down the aisle. As a dad to this day, the memories and feelings I had upon each daughter’s wedding day, from the honor of hearing the weight of their vows recited to solemnizing their union and pronouncing them married one to the other, is a gift that gladdens my heart every day.

They sneaked in on little ships one day
I am rich, very rich, in daughters.
Joshua’s day-old feet

Then the years came when that blessing and gift grew by two, then three and four and now, like wildfire into five and then six new lives. Count them! Six glorious little lives all their own called grandchildren. They sneaked in on little ships one day when I was busy doing something else that seemed important.

I am rich, very rich, in daughters.
The crew: Kevin Owen, Maddie, Josh, Zach and Morgan

I am not sure how this all happened. There’s no manual, no playbook, nothing on being grampy, just unwritten expectations that come without words or fanfare. Each of them, Kevin, Madison, Owen, Joshua, Zachary and Morgan, just moved in to the middle of who I am, set sail and changed whatever course I thought I was on forever.

Sometimes I look at each of them and say nothing. I just look at them, these little relatives, and I wonder about the joys and storms each will face as their lives unfold into tomorrow. Already each owns real estate within my heart. Each makes me laugh, love, play and worry in ways I have not known before. It brings me back to the hours when I first became a father all those years ago, wondering how I would measure up, not just as a father, but as a dad.

I am rich, very rich, in daughters.
My better half, Betty Ann!

These days whenever one of our granddaughters greets me, she always says “Hello grandfather.”  To the rest, I am grampa or grampy. To my daughters I am forever their dad which is a title I will never relinquish. And to myself, when I scan the room with my whole family sitting about, I am husband, father, dad and grandfather on every day. But on this Father’s Day, I am filled with joy and with a prayer of very deep gratitude for what has become a family complete.

Text and photos by K.Lee

What am I waiting for?

What am I waiting for? I ask myself this question about six times a day. I think that I’m waiting for divine intervention or for the phone to ring or for Google to send me a map to follow. What am I waiting for?

How about you? What are you waiting for? I’ll bet that you didn’t know that you were actually waiting for something until I asked, did you? Me either, until this darn question arrived in my inbox. That’s the way it is with questions. They’re sneaky. Continue reading “What am I waiting for?”

Mr. Perry’s Chickens

Thirty years ago we moved into our present suburban home and quickly discovered that we were literally surrounded by four families all bearing the same last name. Three generations in fact.  Mr. Perry Number One, as I think of him, the clan’s eldest member, borders our place to the north and is the focus of my story today called Mr. Perry’s Chickens. Continue reading “Mr. Perry’s Chickens”

When the bridge is gone, the narrowest plank becomes precious

When the bridge is gone, the narrowest plank becomes precious. Rotted Pier in Vieques

Every now and then a phrase or certain quote comes along that will not leave my head and heart, and as it lingers it ushers in a torrent of fresh insight that in turn stretches outward and beyond. When the bridge is gone, the narrowest plank becomes precious, is just such a phrase that many of us have known for ourselves and have watched firsthand within the lives of many others. Sometimes it’s not about rushing to rebuild the bridge but finding that tattered plank and holding on to it for dear life. Other times that narrow plank becomes the bridge we need. Here’s what I mean. Continue reading “When the bridge is gone, the narrowest plank becomes precious”

Are We Living In Yes Today?

Are We Living In Yes Today? Yes Carving by Karin Sprague,
Stone Carving by Karin Sprague

I have a friend who’s a stone carver. Her name is Karin Sprague and she creates art with letters and shapes that are meticulously carved into all kinds of stone, from sweeping granite archways to wall hangings and from tables to tombstones. One of her many pieces that I especially admire consists of only one word, “Yes.” That’s it. “Yes.”  The simple word Yes, by itself could easily be the focus of inner reflection, worship, a weekend retreat or even a workplace seminar on customer relations. “Am I living in Yes today?” is a question that serves me well to ask of myself more often than not. Are We Living in Yes Today? is a question I raise to explore if you today. Continue reading “Are We Living In Yes Today?”