Well, I missed another epic event. I hate it when that happens. When the whole world seems to know what day it is except for me. Yesterday was Daughter’s Day and I did not get the memo.
I did, however, get a small letter from my grandchildren. Which is completely amazing since none of them can really write legibly, yet. They were in search of information. And somehow all three collaborated on the effort, even though they are separated by a hundred miles. Honestly. It’s amazing what kids can do these days with technology.
Today is Dawter’s Day. We weer wonderin if you new that. (I had no idea) Cense our Mommyies R your dawters, we woud like two knowe what they weer like befur wee new them. Like bak in the dinasore days when they weer litill like us.
We luv you bunchez. Zelda, im thu oldest and did al thu riting. Everett and Dorothy are here, too.
PSs Don’t tell them we cent you thes lettur.
Dear Zelda and Assorted Small Cohorts,
First of all, I appreciate so much that you took the time to write to me. It’s been a long time since I got an actual letter in the mail. Letters are special and I will keep this one for the rest of my life.
I’m glad you asked about your Mommies. I wish I had known it was National Daughters’ Day. I would have run through brick walls to post pictures and make phone calls and tell the world how proud I am to have my daughters. But even if the rest of the world doesn’t know because I live under a rock and missed the national day of recognition, I love your Moms a whole bunchez.
Well, where do I start? They were pretty much babies just like you were at one time. Soft bald heads and chubby legs with skin folds that made them look like they had extra to share. They laughed when we played peek-a-boo. You remember that. Grandpa puts a towel over his head and pulls it off real fast right in front of your face and says “peek-a-boo”. You giggled and snorted and screamed with laughter until it made my side hurt. I did the same thing with your Mommies. I am an experienced peek-a-booer.
I think what I enjoyed most, was the age when they would crawl up in my lap, kiss my cheek, wrap their little arms around my neck and say, “I love you Papa.” Gosh that seems like a million years ago. Maybe your Mommies are as old as the dinosaurs. Hee. Hee. Just kidding. Don’t tell them I said so.
Your Mommies have always called me “Papa”. That’s different than most, I guess. I always wondered if it made them feel weird around other kids. Dad. Daddy. Father. There are a lot of ways to say it. Your Nana and I taught them to use Papa because that’s how my Dad referred to his Daddy.
Whenever he would tell a story about the old days, or he would pass on a life lesson to me, it would always begin with, “Papa used to say . . .” Or, “One time Papa and I went . . . “ And since I never knew the man everyone else called D’Daddy, since he died before I was born, I thought I’d keep a little of him alive in me. So, that’s what your Mommies call me. Uncle Marshall, too. I hate to leave him completely out of this story.
By the way, even though your Mommies are all grown up, it pretty much is still my favorite thing when they kiss me on the cheek and call me Papa. They can just about get away with anything even now with a kiss and a hug. But, don’t tell them I said so. This will be our secret.
Sorry. Got a little sidetracked. Where was I? I’m supposed to be telling you what your Mommies were like. Okay. Zelda, your Mommy was a real chatterbox in school. Her teachers were always having to change her seating assignment in elementary school because she talked too much. Teachers sent notes home about it. When we went to PTA conferences, her teacher would say things like:
“She’s a really good student. She colors well. She participates. Her work is above grade level. But she talks way too much and sometimes keeps others from doing their work.”
So, when she tells you to be quiet. That you talk too much. You can wink at her, and you and I will have our little joke on Mommy.
And Everett and Dorothy. What can I tell you about your Mommy? Your poor Mommy. She was the first. She was our experimental child. Everything with her was a first for us, because everything about parenting was a first for us. I must have told her a million times to be patient with us.
“Look”, I would say in some exasperated moment of uncharted parental territory, “I have never been a parent of a 17 year old before. Cut me some slack.”
Your Mommy knew boys who were prone to call the house well after I went to bed. This was back before cell phones, so we only had the one house phone. When it rang, everyone knew it.
One night the phone by my bed on the nightstand rang at 1:00 in the morning. It rang once and stopped. I knew that meant your Mommy picked up the phone quick, hoping to get it before it woke me up. I picked up the phone anyway. Some boy and your Mommy were chatting away like it was just any old time of day.
Once I abruptly ended the phone call, and he said “yes sir, sorry sir” about a hundred times, I decided that your Mommy would be getting up with me at 5 o’clock in the morning for the next two weeks. Since she caused me to lose sleep, I would cut her sleep short on the other end for a while. Amazingly, the late night phone calls stopped.
Look kids. There are a thousand things I could tell you about your Moms, my daughters. I know that sometimes you think that they are too harsh and too demanding and too Mom-like. You’re wanting to know if they were ever just real little girls before they became Mommies. Truth is, I have no idea how they got to be where they are in life right now. One minute they were playing games on the bedroom floor, putting posters on their bedroom walls, and hanging “keep out” signs on the bedroom door. The next thing I knew they were your Mommies.
I think you should be proud to have my daughters in your life. As far as I can tell, they are terrific Moms. Somehow our parenting didn’t mess them up too badly. They love you with every ounce of their hearts. Even though they fuss at you sometimes, they would stand in front of a bus to protect you. I love seeing the pictures of you sitting in their laps. I can see little pieces of my daughters in your faces. I can hear them in your voices.
You wanna know the best part? Even though they are all grown up and belong to you now. And you will only ever know them as your mother. I still know them as my daughters, first. And every time they hug my neck and kiss me on the cheek and say, “I love you Papa”, nothing else in the whole world matters.
Don’t forget that when you get all grown up. Don’t forget to hug their necks. To tell them that you love them. Don’t forget that your Moms are pretty special people.
And do me a favor. Tell them I said, Happy Daughters’ Day. Sorry I’m late.