Strong Men Make Strong Women, and Baritone Barbies

Every Father’s Day I think of my only favorite Wayne Newton Song- Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast.  And there were a few slow walking Daddies around this weekend, for sure.  But for what they lack in speed, they more than made up for in strength.

English: Barbie Portrait
English: Barbie Portrait (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My gratitude is soaring out the window tonight, as I think about the weekend, the day, the great people I’m surrounded by.

I enjoyed a weekend of  basketball and sweet little 12-year-old girls jacked up on candy.  Girls who are really just little girls, but play basketball with strength, heart soul and determination of a platoon of Marines.  Did I mention that they love each other like sisters?  They do.  So cool to watch my girl band with a bunch of other talented beautiful tough ass girls.  I already thought she had a great gang of awesome friends before this. And nice parents.  These girls are so lucky that they can live strong and beautiful simultaneously.  Happy and proud of my girl – of all of the girls.

My husband spent much of the weekend in pain and discomfort, having pulled a muscle in his back earlier in the week.  He’s doing better now, but never complained about driving two hours to Hyannis in Cape Cod from our home in north-west Rhode Island.  He sought relief, but never let it dampen his spirits.  He was so proud of his girl as he limped along behind her.  And as she just passed by him to say “Goodnight Daddy,” I think of what a wonderful, strong influence he has in her life.  While I sometimes get caught up in the emotions of parenting, he stands firm (maybe not upright but firm), consistent, and ignores her pre-teen angst.  As well as my nearly 49-year-old angst, by the way.  He is our rock, and he has taught Julia how to stay focused and calm, while I’ve demonstrated how to be an anxious spazz.  And while being an anxious spazz will undoubtedly come in handy sometime in her life, the other stuff is pretty darn good to master too.  Just in case. So while Daddy couldn’t walk so fast this weekend, he is always behind his girl.  He serves as  her toughest critic, but often understands her better than anyone, what motivates her, what embarrasses her (not that it stops him) and what makes her happiest.  I trot along and try to keep up, and there are parts of her that only she and I share as women.  But he gets her.  And that will take her far in life for sure.  Thanks Julia’s Dad. I love you.

My husband learned how to be a good dad from his dad.  They are so much alike, relaxed, patient, letting the children drawn to them be themselves and let their lights shine.  When Julia was smaller, before first grade and its constraints and assimilation, she always had one day a week with Papa.  They would find places to explore, whether it be the park, the museum, or their favorite, the circus.  Or just out for a meal and a game of Barbie dolls.  Papa Ray dishes out the best Barbie girl baritone I’ve ever heard.  The best way to sum up his relationship with Julia:  one day she told my mother-in-law how much she loves her days with Papa.  When she asked what she liked best, she replied, “Papa gives me opportunities.”  Thank you Papa Ray for giving Julia, and Jeremy so many wonderful opportunities.  I love you too.

And of course there’s my Old Man, who never really got me as a kid, but that was most likely for the best, because he gets me now.  Papa Al enjoyed his fill of pancakes at IHOP this Saturday with my sister, my mother, my niece and my almost one year old grand-nephew Lincoln, aka Jumping Jack.  My father taught him how to bang utensils on the table and make noise; and Linkie had my parents beaming with joy at his adorable, life-affirming presence.  Thanks Jumping Jack.  Love you too.  And while my Dad doesn’t walk so fast anymore, I’m just grateful that he can walk, and drive (just local), and enjoy the important things in life.  Love my Daddy.

So many wonderful, strong men in my life, young and old.  So grateful.

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