It should come as no secret that I chose this picture for a Father's Day post since my husband is the "Father-of-Daughters". One of the things RW and I do every night is watch an episode of a favorite TV series that we have on tape or DVD. One of our favorite series is "West Wing" because the characters are well-drawn and the writing is witty. In West Wing President Bartlet has three daughters and in one episode recounts a story that explains what it's like to be a father of only daughters:
Bartlet: You know, 15 years ago, we took a trip to Egypt, all five of us, saw the pyramids and Luxor, then headed up into the Sinai. We had a guide, a Bedouin man, who called me "Abu el Banat." Whenever we'd meet another Bedouin, he'd introduce me as "Abu el Banat." The Bedouin would laugh and laugh and then offer me a cup of tea. And I'd go and pay them for the tea, and they wouldn't let me. "Abu el Banat" means "father of daughters." They thought the tea was the least they could do.
Well, RW has certainly earned the title "Abu el Banat". Over the years he's learned several things about being a "father-of-daughters": NEVER leave the seat up or deal with the consequences - getting up in the middle of the night to dry off the toddler who fell in during a nocturnal bathroom visit; hormonal outbursts can happen at any hour of any day so be prepared with the appropriate response; a mother's advice may be offered, but it's dad's advice that will be heeded; men will come and go but Dad will always be there.
Our girls have been so lucky to have RW as their father. Not only did he change the diapers when they were small and learn how to cook and do laundry while I went back to school he has let both of them know that home is where you can always come back to, no questions asked.
When we were young parents and struggling to pay the bills he always managed to find the money for those wanted, but not needed items, that I didn't know how we could afford: school jackets, new dance shoes, money for band trips, prom dresses...it was only later that I found out it was because he went without lunch, postponed the haircut another couple weeks, deferred needed dental work or new glasses, in other words, made personal sacrifices to put his daughters' needs ahead of his own.
Our daughters are both bright: they've done well in school and are successful in their professions. This is no accident. From the time they were both small RW read to them EVERY night, several books at a time. He would moan and groan, but then give in to requests to read "Gingerman, daddy" again and AGAIN. He opened their older eyes to Gabriel Garcia Marquez and the wisdom of eastern religious thought. Their religious philosophy is their own but it was shaped by RW's journey to discover his own.
Now RW is a grandfather and he's able to enjoy that role without the heavy responsibility of parenthood. Princess Granddaughter enjoys special things with Grandpa: they play princesses and castles together with a novel twist: after rescuing the princess numerous times the princess is told to rescue herself! I laughed at this, but it's a good life lesson, isn't it? She helps Grandpa find bugs: when she was 2 bugs were fun; now she finds them so Grandpa can kill them. She draws pictures for him and lets him join her tea parties when "no boys allowed" signs are posted everywhere. RW somehow has a way of capturing the female hearts in his family.
So, RW, here is my tribute to one of the world's best dads. You may feel that you haven't done anything special to deserve it, but I wanted you to know that you DO deserve it. Every day.