I’m a “daddy’s girl”. I don’t deny it, and anyone who knows me, knows this is true. Growing up, I was daddy’s “Princess”, a title that I relished. When I was two years old, we were moving across the country from Ohio to Oregon and when we stopped for gas, Daddy would buy a bottle of Coke from the machine – the “old-fashioned” glass bottles from the machines with the bottle openers attached to them. It didn’t take long for me to pick up on this routine because I loved sharing that Coke with him. Before long, I was asking “Daddy, we need gas??” every time we’d pass a gas station. And every time, he’d stop, even if it was just to get a Coke to share with me. The truth is that I can still talk my Daddy into a cold Coke whenever we’re out somewhere together, thought I buy it for him now.
Time passed and I grew up, tough I sometimes wonder if growing up was the best idea. Being the grown-up is hard. Even painful at times. But, nonetheless, I did, and in time I, too, married and had three beautiful children of my own. But the fairytale ended when the marriage ended, and suddenly I found myself as a single mom to three little kids, while their father moved on with his life on the other side of the country. So, what does any 30-year-old woman with three kids do when this happens? Yep, she calls her Daddy. His princess needed him to ride in on his trusty steed and help her get her bearings. And he did. Without fail, he pulled up on his steed – a rusty, old red and white pick up – and picked me up. In so many more ways that I can even express. But he did more than that. He filled the role of a “father” for my kids. When their father wasn’t there for all of their daily activities and all of their important life events, their “Pop” was. Pop helped teach my boys and my daughter how to drive, change a tire, check their oil, and many other useful things. He taught my daughter to ride a two-wheeler, and over the years he attended ballet classes, baseball and soccer practices, various school and Cub Scout activities, and even attended “Father’s Day” activities with the kids. Of course, true to form, he also spoiled them rotten and helped teach them how to get into some trouble. Taking the trash to the local landfill, often resulted in the kids coming home with ice cream on their faces, even though Pop knew that my Mom and I would have dinner ready when they got home. If I said “no”, Pop said “Wait till Mom’s not looking”. The bond between Pop and his grandkids was strong and undeniable.
My daughter was the youngest of my kids, and just a little over 4 when we moved in with my parents. Though she adored her grandmother, she soon became her Pop’s shadow. Whenever Pop was, Caite wasn’t too far behind, and Pop loved this. She danced with him in the kitchen. Worked with him in the garden. He even let her drive his truck around the farm, which often scared the poor chickens. I think those hens laid eggs out of sheer fright of seeing a 7-year-old heading toward them in that old truck with her grandfather riding shotgun. The two were inseparable, and still are. Today, Caite will tell anyone that her Pop is the love of her life, and she measures all men against him. Suffice it to say, that I had to relinquish my crown as the “Princess” to my little one, and she has relished it all these years as much as I did growing up. No one will ever be able to take the place of her father, whom she sees every few years and otherwise doesn’t hear from. But she has her Pop. The “Shining Knight” in her kingdom. Her very own knight who whisks in when needed to “rescue” his “princess”, and continue to spoil her completely rotten. Of course, she’s now a young lady of 17, but still very much her Pop’s little princess, and she likes to remind me of this every so often – with a gleam in her eye. And no Princess could have a better Knight to fight her battles, or save her from her evil mother who didn’t allow her to have ice cream right before dinner. For a little girl who never had the chance to be “Daddy’s girl”, I’m truly thankful that she was, and still is, “Pop’s Princess”. Happy Father’s Day, Daddy.
Photo – Pop and his Princess Caite