How do you know when you have the best Daddy ever?
I discovered I was pregnant with my youngest daughter two weeks after leaving an abusive marriage. It was also the week my oldest daughter announced her engagement.
There were a lot of mixed reactions to this new addition to the family. Many said they could never love her because of who her father was. One daughter even suggested I abort the baby. It was a very emotional time for me especially.
After Youngest was born, there was no doubt that she was going to be sunshine incarnate. You couldn’t help but love her and everyone did.
Lucky for us all the legal rights of her father were severed due to his behavioral record. Her core family then became me, my mother, my father, my grandmother and her aunt (my youngest sister).
My father quietly and lovingly stepped into the Daddy spot.
There were specific things that made him Grandpa:
- reading stories
- magnetic building sets
There were specific things that made him Daddy:
- coming home from work
- working in the yard
- household repairs
- homework buddy
- volunteering at school
- Daddy-Daughter dates
As you can see, Grandpa was more Daddy than Grandpa.
Where She Belonged
As Youngest got older she never questioned her place in the family or the world. In all her sixteen years she has only asked two questions about her sperm donor:
- What was his name? (I told her)
- Where was he? I don’t know.
It really didn’t matter to her because she had a man in her life that loved her, protected her, praised her, cherished her and expected her best. Who could ask more from their daddy?
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all peaches and cream.
When she needed a firm hand he was there. She was required to be respectful, responsible and well-behaved.
Tantrums and drama were not allowed and received reprimands and that look of disappointment that makes a little girls heart-break.
Of course it was always followed up with a discussion on how she could have done it differently, hugs and encouragement.
Grandpa was excited to see and hear all about the important milestones in Youngest’s life:
- Her first steps.
- Her first word “Hey!”
- Her first day of nursery at church (18 months)
- Her first day of primary (children’s program at church – 3 years).
- Her first day of Kindergarten.
- He was there to baptize her when she turned eight.
- He was there when she graduated grade-school.
- He was there when she turned 12.
- He was excited to hear all about her first year at Girl’s Camp.
- He couldn’t wait to hear all about her first day in jr. high.
- Her first trip to the temple to do baptisms for the dead.
Grandpa was always interested to hear about what she was doing. Daddy listened to her thoughts and feelings.
Gifts To Last
My father encouraged Youngest to expand her view of the world. To see the possibilities in front of her. To try new things.
He bought Youngest her first instrument. A harp.
- He took her to first lessons.
- He listened to her practice.
- He praised her improvements.
She played for her Daddy the night before he died. Every song she knew. Some of them twice.
He continues to pay for her lessons through my mother and Youngest continues to play for her Grandpa-Daddy.
My father bought Youngest a telescope for her twelfth birthday. The last one he was here for.
They didn’t do as much with it as he would have wished because he was so sick by then, but they still had time to share it.
Youngest used it to see the blood moon and the lunar eclipse and then rushed into the house to tell her Daddy all about it.
Is There A God?
We are members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) and my father was a worthy priesthood holder and a good patriarch.
Father’s blessings were given at the beginning of every school year. Even his last year when he was in the hospital. He sat on the edge of his hospital bed and gave her a blessing.
He was always there to give her blessings of healing when she was sick.
He taught her about God and his love for her. They discussed our religious beliefs and how they felt about them.
Most importantly they talked about the eternal nature of families and the importance of the sealing powers of the temple.
On the day my Daddy died I picked Youngest up from school and brought her home to say her good-byes before the mortuary came to get our Daddy. While driving home she looked at me with tears streaming down her face and said, “Grandpa is no longer sick and we have the temple blessings so everything is going to be okay.”
After the mortuary came and my father’s body was laying on the gurney waiting to go out Youngest took a quiet moment when she thought no one was looking. I was.
She kissed her daddy quietly on the forehead and placed her warm cheek against his cold one. Then I heard her whisper quietly, “Good-bye Daddy. You’ll always be my Daddy.”
Was my father perfect? Of course not. There were days when he was tired, grouchy and all too human. Does it matter? No. He was her Daddy and she misses him.