All over the world and throughout history there are relationships between fathers and daughters. Princess, baby girl, and my girl are some of the names you hear from fathers when they talk about their daughters, but in the south there is something special known as, “A Daddy’s girl.” Raising strong independent women was our goal as we struggled to bring up our girls in a way that would set them on a path that is successful and full of life. Now as I look at our daughters, strong, independent and beautiful, I can still catch a glimpse of my little girls who loved for Daddy to put their hair in curlers on a Saturday night so they could show off their curls on Sunday morning.
For my first contribution to The Angry Biscuit, I want to share this story as a gift to my eldest daughter, Elisabeth, as she celebrates her first anniversary to my favorite Son in Law, Brandon.
Don’t let me fall.
Here we are standing at the top of the stairs. We gaze out to take in the gorgeous setting before us of the glimmering lake, the sun in the perfect position, the flowers, fabrics and ribbon adorning the dock and boat house creating the stage for the perfect wedding. They are all there… friends, family, those who love you. “Are you ready?” I ask. “Yes Daddy,” you respond with a deep cleansing breath. In a moment we will begin to make our way down the long staircase, holding your arm as I take you to the man who will take your hand from me.
I feel you grip my arm…. “Daddy, don’t let me fall!” you whisper. With those words I confidently take your arm in a tighter hold and prepare to guide you on our journey to the gathered love ones whom we can see smiling with adoration and love, waiting for the beautiful bride to make her descent.
“Don’t let me fall!” I’ve heard those words before. You were seated so proudly although quite scared, on your new bicycle. This is the day we took off the training wheels. It was the day you had decided that you wanted to ride your bike like a big girl. I can see your little hands holding on to the handle bars tightly with your helmet fastened and ready. Your strawberry blond pony tail concealed beneath your protection. You said, “Daddy, don’t let me fall!” You must know that a big part of me did not want to let you go. I was content to run beside you, helping to steady your ride as you learned to balance on this adventure, but after several rides back and forth in the yard, you shouted, “Ok, Daddy!” and I reluctantly released you to find your balance. Released you to find your way. I watched without breathing as the bike swerved a little from left to right until you found your balance. You did not really stop the bike that afternoon, but instead let it just come to a point that you could jump off! I clapped and celebrated with you as you beamed with a smile that would melt the heart of any one. There was such innocent joy bubbling from deep in your spirit.
But you did fall. There were many times I could hear you make your way into the house in tears holding a scraped elbow or knee. You preferred your momma to tend to the wound as only a momma could, but I loved that you would climb into my lap and allow me to hold you and attempt to absorb all the hurt, until you were ready to go back outside to play again. You don’t know the times we would watch from the window or the front porch as you went to join your siblings, showing them the new “battle wound” all freshly bandaged. I smile even now as I remember you letting your younger siblings know that everything was ok now with a quick raise of your hand, a sigh of relief and an “I’m ok” with your sweet raspy voice.
You did fall. You were older now…. A strong young woman who called me in the middle of the night. Your heart and hopes broken. Unlike the scrapes and bruises encountered as a little girl, there were deep wounds that would only heal with time and love. Lots of love. I watched, just as we had when you were little from the window to be sure you were ok. I watched as you allowed grief to take her course…. Then you found your balance again making your own new path. I watched as you cleared a course that was not seen and witnessed you create your world full of love and understanding. I remember the day when you told me that love had found you again. You must know that I wanted to “run beside you” to be sure you had your balance, but I knew I had to let go and know that all would be well.
“Daddy, are you ready?” You asked this time. “I am,” I sighed.
“Daddy, please don’t let me fall!” you say again, aloud this time with a nervous laugh. Your arm is holding mine, but I reach over to hold your hand and I hear you take deep breath and I can feel you relax as we begin to make our way down the steps. Honestly, I know that every eye is on you and I’m ok with that because my job is to watch the steps in front of us so I can safely bring you to the man who will today become the one who holds your hand.
Douglas Perkins - Contributing author
Born in upstate New York, Douglas was transplanted to the South at the early age of 10 years old, where now his roots run deep in the Georgia red clay. Well-traveled, Douglas acknowledges that there is something in the food and culture of the Southern United States that is quite different from anywhere else around the globe. The Southern way of living is so, “easy to come home to.” He understands that food is not just about a recipe, it’s about where the food is created and how we are in relationship not only with the food but with those who have passionately prepared and those whom with we share our meal. Douglas loves to garden and cook, but more than anything he loves to share a meal, a nice bottle of wine and a moment of time filled with love, conversation and laughter.