Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Father (as in paternal parent, not God) (04/10/08)
TITLE: New Father
By Lauren Dahl
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Growing up, my father had been away most of the time. He’d drop by the house with money and an occasional, “Keep up the good work at school, Buddy,” and then take off again. But money and complements had never filled the empty space in my heart left by his absence.
I had tried to substitute other men for my father: coaches, teachers, etc. but they failed miserably because there was always that time of day when they weren’t there. Teachers couldn’t tuck me in at night. Coaches couldn’t get me up in the morning or struggle over homework with me after school.
What was a father? I’d asked myself that question many times. Sometimes I didn’t have an answer; often I came up with an ideal, impossible standard. As time ticked by I grew increasingly agitated. I loved that baby with everything I had, I thanked God for her, but I feared her.
Then the final hours came. I waited impatiently in the hall until I heard a baby crying, then I burst into the room. Everything was confusion at first; I couldn’t see our child. At last a doctor turned around and handed her to my wife who gave her to me. I looked down at our daughter and all my apprehension melted away. She’d stopped crying and just lay still and contented in my arms. I felt as if my heart would burst. Despite being red, wrinkled, and bald, she was the most beautiful thing on earth. And she trusted me, even though I wasn’t perfect; even though I didn’t always know what to do and I didn’t have the answers to all her questions. But I was there, I loved her, and I guess that was enough.
Little Sarah’s eyes opened slightly and she gurgled. No one else in the room understood it, but to me her message was crystal clear. I love you, Daddy.
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