I wish for you a path unknown.
Until all your magic dreams are grown.
And then a life, you’re proud to own.
With lesson learned that you have sown.
With all my heart, you're not alone,
At the path's end, when you have flown.
A Father’s Love
A father’s love is bounded, only by his grasp.
Caringly he protects you, from an evil asp.
He tries to mentor you, to be a role model.
But may fall short, of that ethereal chapel.
Think kindly of his wisdom, words from yesterday,
They come from his heart, a lesson never passé.
A father’s love is shown, by the tightness of his clasp.
And his arms will reach to hold you, until his final gasp.
It’s Parents and Family Weekend at UMO. I looked at my daughter across the table, her smile accentuated her high cheekbones. She was smiling because she was texting a friend, not because this was the first time in a month that she'd seen her mother and I.
I realized, proudly, that she was in her element, a first-year college student, at home and happy. She didn't need us, except for some spending cash, she had taken flight and left the nest. Her wings unfurled away from our parental shade.
My daughter is so smart, so beautiful and kind, it's hard to believe she isn't really the daughter of the postman. She is the reflection of my ideals but not my actions.
She looked up from her texting, and smiled a wry smile, as she realized I had been studying her. I am so proud of her. The best of me, ready to make a difference in our world. For years she has been the environmental maven of our home. She was quick to point out a banana peel in the trash and not the compost.
Perhaps soon, she'll speak out like Rachel Carson. But sadly, the problem now is not DDT, but it has happened just the same, but for a more insidious reason, the unimaginable loss of birds in north America. Thirty percent, 3 billion birds have vanished from our sky since I hiked as a kid in the woods of my rural town. I remember my steps were accompanied by song birds and crackling of leaves under my feet, and the feel of the cool flakes of the season’s first snow.
Years passed, and before I knew it, I was a father trying to catch falling leaves with my daughter near the shores of a pond. I heard from high overhead, a flock of migrating geese crying out, a warning that I wasn’t prepared to hear.
Three billion, that's 3,000,000,000. Will my daughter and her generation be able to make a difference when the political leaders of my generation are too self-serving to acknowledge the realities of a changing planet.
I'd like to think they will. Aren't all teens and twenty somethings, environmentally in-tune and scientifically aware?
Last week, I saw a picture of a high school cheerleading squad holding a banner with the slogan Make America Great Again, Trump 2020. And I realized that it isn't youthfulness that will make the difference for the billions of birds and people. It is the collective voice and votes of millions of people who acknowledge what the preponderance of science informs us.
I have no doubt how my daughter will vote on 2020. I have no doubt that she will vote; she is aware and enlightened. What does worry me is I don't know how the cheerleaders in North Carolina will vote. And I don’t know how the people who wanted the swamp drained will vote.
I am afraid for my country and my world. I am afraid for the whales hunted in the Sea of Japan, and the polar bear who swims ceaselessly searching for ice. I am burdened by scenes of fires burning across the Amazon. And I’m sickened by the thought of birds and species that soon may not exist.
My daughter's mischievous blue eyes squinted as she contorted her face making what my family calls 'scrunch face'. My smile returned; my melancholy lifted. I pray that in 2020, I will learn that there are more stewards of this planet than there are consumers of her beauty.
There was a man and a woman who sought each other out for friendship and love and their nuclear family grew to three. Her name came to her father one still night, before her birth, when he quietly voiced the name Chloe to his still partner lying next to him. In the morning, the name Chloe was added to a very short list of girl names and it quickly surpassed the others.
As an infant and as a toddler, she often slept with her parents, they called her ‘Little Little in the Middle’, this was her first nickname. With that decade behind us, that nickname will still surface at times when the couple is inclined to couple and the offspring inclined to intervene. She is, after all, an only child.
The father, the giver of the names, bequeathed another name early on, ‘Lovey Bear’. This name is shared only by father and daughter and speaks of quiet and tender times when her smile and hugs melt away his stoic personae and his deep chuckle meshes so sweetly with her uproarious laughter during tickle time. A derivation of Lovey Bear is ‘Huggy Bear’ this stems from just four months after her birth. It was September 11, 2011.
That bright fall, morning, turned gray for our nuclear family, as it did for so many others. But the parents found solace holding their tiny progeny, their ‘Huggy Bear’. As the years passed, jobs were lost, parents passed, and other bumps in the road of life were hit, but each time Huggy Bear was there and the world was less gray and the future more bright.
As the casual reader of this telling, you are not privy to the early and often Chatty Chloe. She spoke early, she speaks often, and she often speaks with speed of an auctioneer and possesses the wisdom of a sage. She is an old soul, in a youthful body, with a mature perspective on life and a profound empathy for others. This empathy, affects her soul, her moods, her outlook. She is a child or her surroundings as much as she is of her parents, influenced by the cool calculations of others as much as by their honest friendship.
She is also Goofy, a name that doesn’t surface as much today as it did when she wore ponytails. I wonder if there is something about makeup and teen clothes that are designed to help her fit-in with her peers that lessen the desire to be Goofy. Regardless, I miss the Goofy girl who would do silly things to hear her father’s chuckle.
Her most common ‘nom de plume’ for she’s an imaginative and creative girl, is ‘Chlowitha’, often shortened to ‘With-a’. This is her most commonly used family nickname. It is used pervasively by both her parents, in-front of her or in conversation about her. ‘With-a’ can do no wrong. ‘With-a’ needs a new mono-fin for her ‘mermaid phase’. ‘With-a’ wants to have some friends for a sleep-over. Do you think ‘With-a’ would want to go to the museum? Hey ‘With-a’, would you like to go to Popham?
I wonder which nicknames will survive the tumultuous teen years and wish for her the strength of her sage to overshadow her empathetic self. Her sage will grant her the wisdom to recognize the triviality of teen angst from a lifelong perspective. When she accepts that high school diploma, I suspect Goofy may be gone for good. Huggy Bear will be lost in the arms of a parade of boys, who are learning to be men. While ‘Little Little in the Middle’ will go off to college with hope and aspirations for herself supported by the strength of her parents and a wish for an enduring ‘With-a’.
When I get slower and you get older, we will hike the same mountain trail. For a brief time, your maturing youth will meet my declining years, and we will share the same experience as physical equals.
But we will see different things, in the still images our minds create. I'll compare the chortling brook to another long past. As you’ll see it with fresh eyes and hear it with virgin ears. I wish that mountain streams will always remind you of me, and that often in your life you will make the time to walk alongside a quiet stream.
Down the long, long path of your life, I pray, that it is the sounds of nature that will quiet your troubled soul. And you will find that the sunlight splashing by the timeless needles of the spruce will warm your heart.
And should voices be troubling and decisions unimaginable then kneel beside the chortling brook and listen for the echo of my voice. You will hear my gentle affirmation in the babble of the brook, my steadfast respect in the granite rock at your feet, and my nurturing love in all the nature that surrounds you.