Her Father’s Daughter: A Short Story (in progress) – Preface & The First Step 

Her Father’s Daughter: A Short Story in progress

Preface:

She walks in his well-worn shoes and is not conscience of the great parallels of their lives.  

In her mind he is a myth: brilliant, perfect and strong; a memory that she clings on to each day for survival.  

In her world his flaws, obvious but always forgiven, are overlooked because his love for her overshadowed them by far.

Too proud that she carries many of his traits, it is of surprise when she realizes that his darkness so closely resembles her own.

Her father died far too young with a simple few years of true freedom, if that at all.

Expectations. Did she fulfill his and did he live up to his own?

Did he ever resolve his sense of obligation? Would she?

On a cold January afternoon she sits perfectly still as the ferry bounces up and down along the choppy Hudson River.  

Once again her mind filled with unanswered questions.

Step One:

This session left her questioning her mortality; the quality of the shrinking years of her life. 

Hearing the reality: “you’ve probably got thirty years left – twenty where you can do anything you want” left her breathless.

What was she waiting for, her father lived within the same self-imposed confines but managed to find sorted joy. How?

Where was her joy?!

Her love of dogs, now a source of pain and loss, compartmentalized. “I can’t – not until – what if“. 

Each and every day missing the unconditional love in her world of piercing emptiness; it would never be “the right time“.

Staring out at the fog as ferry ride turned Manhattan into a fading illusion, she screamed.

Before she lay her head on the pillow that night, she had adopted fraternal twin basset hounds. 

Heart bursting with excitement, the boys would arrive by the end of the month. Is this joy?

The ridiculous happiness that she believed could never be replicated, the warm smell of ears and paws, it was going to happen again!

A life filled with guilt, self-loathing and almost void of the flutter of love; how did this happen? 

Childhood memories of her “perfect” father’s face when he thought no one was looking was now a mirror of her own self-sacrifice. 

He adored her dogs almost as much as she did; they gave her comfort every moment of each day before and especially after he passed. 

Waiting was not an option. She looked down at her feet and his shoes – it must be time to stop punishing herself for unknown crimes.

Just as he adjusted by the decade in order to survive, it occurred to her that she could walk barefoot in the grass. No shoes – his or mine. 

The romping of two excited hounds and a barefoot girl, imagine: no guilt. 

Be Happy“: Her father’s mantra repeated time and again since she was a child.  Because there was no example she invented masks to fulfill his edict. 

Hearing his words, she had an overwhelming secret guilt in any happiness that was exclusively hers. 

Get Rid of the Guilt!“, her doctor had said week after month and year. His words filled the quiet office, he spoke in a language foreign to his patient. 

And so…

Days later, despite commentary, lack of help or mutual excitement; she knew it was right. She was due.

These sweet dogs would help her untie the first notch of the self-imposed noose. The noose; a painful and cumbersome necklace she’d worn for almost as long as she could recall. 

Yes, slightly loosened: Small Step One.

  

Step One: The Boys!

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Father’s Day Music

Dear Daddy,

Do you remember the year when I took you out for Chinese food and then we went to the movies?  I must have been twelve or thirteen, it was a PG movie and I couldn’t have been more excited!  We saw “HAIR”, and I peppered you with a thousand questions on the way home.  The music would join the soundtrack of our lives.  A few years ago, I saw it on Broadway and you might have been sitting on my shoulder, because I cannot remember the friend or anything else but you that night.

There are entire catalogs of songs that I hold in my heart simply labeled:  Daddy or Dad with or without a year – but FLUSH with emotion.  You own Judy Collins, Bob Dylan, John Denver, Simon & Garfunkle, Enya, a good part of Billy Joel, most of Elton John – the list is endless.  There are days that I’ve devoted to listening to these songs just to be close toyou and mourn you at the same time.

I hate the idea of “let’s celebrate Father’s day” because mine is not right here for me to hug.  You hugged like you meant it, like I could feel the strength of your conviction.

I never once wondered if you loved me – and I pray that you never once wondered if I loved you (because I always have and always will)

There will never be a day when “OUR” songs don’t catch in my throat.

“My Father” – Judy Collins, the song we danced to at YOUR wedding.  (lyrics below)

My Father
Words and Music by Judy Collins
Universal Music Corp. (ASCAP)/ The Wildflowers Company (ASCAP)
(Administered by Universal Music Corp.)

My father always promised us
That we would live in France
We’d go boating on the Seine
And I would learn to dance

We lived in Ohio then
He worked in the mines
On his dreams like boats
We knew we would sail in time

All my sisters soon were gone
To Denver and Cheyenne
Marrying their grownup dreams
The lilacs and the man

I stayed behind the youngest still
Only danced alone
The colors of my father’s dreams
Faded without a sound

And I live in Paris now
My children dance and dream
Hearing the ways of a miner’s life
In words they’ve never seen

I sail my memories of home
Like boats across the Seine
And watch the Paris sun
As it sets in my father’s eyes again

My father always promised us
That we would live in France
We’d go boating on the Seine
And I would learn to dance

I sail my memories of home
Like boats across the Seine
And watch the Paris sun
As it sets in my father’s eyes again

I miss you today and always – I love you daddy.

Your girl –

If, A Post Gone Off Course

He never told me what to do “If“; and here I am crippled without anyone to lean upon. 

My body is shaking and I’ve become so very solitary that there is no one to scream out: “help“. 

And get a true response. 

The reality is that I probably would not have allowed him to see me so weak, broken. 

If” he were still, I would be forced to rise to do everything for fear of disappointing him. 

Despite my crippling fears, my panic and feelings as though I might pass out; for him “If” I’d pretend. 

I wonder whether that makes our relationship strong or weak; true or false? Not that it matters any longer. 

If” he were to see me in such a state it would be – well, it simply would not be. 

I would never allow it; he would never see me shattered like a glass dropped from the top of a staircase. 

Anytime he would experience my fragility it was via the telephone, letter or email – never in person. 

If” I were vulnerable in front of him than it would be too much of a reflection; and we would never allow such a thing. 

If” I was to be his child than I must be strong.  

All that I ever wanted to be was his daughter, no “If’s” about it.