Maggie gave me a framed picture that is one of her favorite pictures of her, me, and Elena. She didn’t know, but it’s my favorite picture of the three of us too.
Last year when Kim and I were helping her move into her dorm room I noticed that it was one of the pictures she’d brought to college with her and it made me very happy.
In the picture, she’s probably six. Elena’s probably four.
In order to have more time to spend with them, I was getting up earlier and earlier and coming downstairs to write and edit.
Kim would come downstairs and make us coffee and then the girls would burst onto the scene.
In the picture, I’m in my armchair. I’ve heard the girls on the stairs and have closed my laptop and propped it against the chair under my legs. The dog is nowhere to be seen. She’s probably hiding in the kitchen.
Elena is laying back across my legs. She’s wearing flannel pajamas and is sprawled comfortable with her arms over her head lounging back. She’s smiling and looking directly at the camera.
No matter how quiet or careful Kim was about approaching us with a camera, Elena had a sixth sense and in almost every picture is looking at and performing for the camera.
Maggie is wearing a night shirt and is perched on the back of the chair hovering over my head. Uncharacteristically, she too has spotted Kim and is smiling at the camera.
Thousands more words wouldn’t paint that picture for you – but it’s one that affirms “yeah, that’s what being a dad is all about.”
So many great moments I remember. There’s nothing better than being a dad.
A couple of weeks ago, Kim encouraged me to apply for a job even though it meant we would have to live parts of the year apart.
I cited the cliche that no one dies wishing they had worked more. She countered that this was something different – something more than work. This job seemed special.
Several times I’ve looked at really cool jobs – but they required me to live away from my girls or to take them away from their grandparents. It made it easy to say “thank you, but I’m sorry, I can’t.”
Kim felt this time was different. Maggie is at college and Kim and I could find a way to make this work.
So I went out to interview.
I had a great time. I enjoyed everyone I interviewed with and had a fun day answering questions. Along the way I discovered that although the job was challenging and fun and involved working with bright people, it wasn’t the job I thought I was interviewing for.
I’m sure I could have been successful in the job but it wasn’t a “this is a job worth working away from Kim” kind of job.
I’m not sure whether they would have said yes or no to me but I said “thank you, but I’m sorry, I can’t.” I told them what sort of job would change my answer – but this was a job that is perfect for someone else.
This is my eleventh Father’s Day at Elena’s graveside. I think of her and I think of the father I am and want to be. I think I made the most of my time as her dad. I hope I am the dad that Maggie deserves.
Maggie is way more than I could ever expect of a daughter. Of course there are things that drive me crazy or make me roll my eyes, but she’s an incredible person who makes me laugh and think deeply all the time.
And today, on Father’s Day, Maggie made me cry.
Often that would be a bad thing but she did it in such a thoughtful beautiful way.
She wrapped herself around my heart and gave me a picture that is a favorite for both of us.
She brought back a moment when she and her younger sister and her mother standing behind the picture that captured the moment surrounded me with love.
Best Father’s Day gift ever.