Mendon Fishers ©2012
The little girl came rushing in the house after the school bus dropped her off. She was wearing her little pink back pack with the unicorn decorations on it. She was excited and wanted her mother's attention immediately as all little children did. To a small child their needs and wants are the most important things to them. Everything and everyone else could wait.
"Why don't you sit at the table and I'll fix you a snack," her mother said. "Then you can tell me everything that happened at school today."
The mother started fixing a ½ peanut butter and jelly sandwich for her. The mother and daughter talked about the daughter's day while fixing the sandwich. Mom heard all about "the best friend" Suzie, the "mean boy" Johnny who teased her all the time. Mom figured it was the first childhood crush. She knew that these "crushes" were just beginning because her daughter was a little goddess with her blond hair and blue eyes. The child had her father's features. The same features that caused Mom to fall head over heels in love the first time they met.
Because of the animated way the daughter talked, Mom kept the glass of milk on the counter to prevent an accident. When the daughter started winding down, Mom asked, "Do you want your milk yet?"
The little blond head nodded "yes" because her mouth was too full to talk. Those PB&J sandwiches were just the best and couldn't be slowly eaten. They had to be gobbled.
Of course Mom, as mothers all over do, cautioned her to "eat slowly", "take smaller bites", and "swallow before taking another bite." But then mom liked the few extra minutes of quiet brought about by the full mouth. They would be the last moments of the peace and quiet until a certain blond whirlwind went to bed.
Mom usually sat on the porch after her daughter went to bed, weather permitting, and slowly sipped her wine, letting her day wind down and her mind clear. Tomorrow was another day to face and new problems to conquer. Life was not kind to Mom, she sometimes wished, when she watched her daughter, that she had her childhood back. Life was so much easier without the bill paying, and the other tribulations found in an adult's life.
The small child suddenly grabbed her milk off the counter, scaring the Mom half out of her mind, and started drinking. When the little girl finally cleared her snack from her mouth she said, "Mom, I almost forgot." And she rushed off to her abandoned backpack, dropped by the kitchen door upon entry. I have a note from Mrs. Perkins for you.
Dread filled Mom's stomach as she imagined the worse. "What did this precious little child do that was so terrible that it warranted a "note"? was the first thought in her mind.
That thought quickly fled upon Mom seeing that the: "note" was actually a flyer printed too many times on the Xerox copier in the office at school. It was a copy of a copy of a copy, ad infinitum, with all the attending lines burned into the product and the faded text. Her daughter quickly dropped it on the table and rushed upstairs to change into her "play" clothes. Her little friends were starting to gather outside in front of the house.
Mom read the poster's heading, "Daddy's Day." Mom knew she'd need to convince her daughter to stay home that day. As Mom read the flyer, she noticed that the special day was next week. She had only four days to convince her off spring to stay home that day.
That night Mom started her campaign.
It took the four days almost no time to fly by and Mom found herself in her daughter's bedroom putting that little blond hair up in a pony tail (her favorite), a certain special pink dress (again her favorite). The dress was even tied with a great big pink bow.
Mom looked at her daughter with both pride and sorrow. Today was "Daddy's Day" and the small child couldn't wait to attend.
"Maybe you should stay home today," Mom said.
She was met with a dirty look.
"Maybe the other kids won't understand why you're alone," she added.
"Mom! I know exactly what to tell them," the daughter countered.
Mom still didn't want her child to face this day alone so she offered, "Can I come with you?"
"No Mom. It's Daddy Day. You can come on Mommy's Day."
The conversation came to a halt as one of her daughter's friend yelled from the kitchen. Mom was driving the kids to school today. As Mom was walking to the car she worried, "What will she tell the kids about the Dad who never calls or visits?"
The girls squirmed and giggled all the way to school. The mom worried.
When they reached the school, Mom was dismissed and the two little friends disappeared through the door.
Mom drove slowly home, crying for her child. Mom knew the child's father would not be attending.
When the children settled down in their seats, the Dads were let into the room by Mrs. Perkins, the teacher. The fathers were addressed by Mrs. Perking on the importance of this day and how the children were looking forward to telling their piers about their Dads, as well as what was to happen that morning.
The next couple of hours crept by as the various children introduced their fathers to their classmates and talked about their Dads..
At last Mrs. Perkins called the little girl's name name, "Ella, would you like to tell us about your Dad now?"
Ella stood next to her desk and before she could start, she heard a boy call out.
"Where's her Daddy at?"
"She probably doesn't have one," another boy added.
From somewhere near the back she heard," Must be one of those deadbeat dads. Too busy to be bothered with his kid,"
Little Ella was too young to feel the hurt that all those words were meant to bring. She looked at Mrs. Perkins who nodded for Ella to continue,
With her little hands behind her bad she began in a strong, clear voice, "My Dad couldn't be here today because he lives so far away. But he wishes that he could be here to meet all of you on this special day."
"Even though you cannot meet him, I want you to know all about my Daddy, and how much he loves me. He loved to read to me stories at bedtime", and in her mind Ella could remember her dad sitting on her bed at night reading her favorite books. Her dad would read the same stories over and over, night after night. Not because he love them, but because Ella loved them and he loved her, Ella knew the stories so well that she would recite them from memory because she had not learned to read yet.
"He taught me how to ride my bike by running along side of me and helping me to stay upright. He taught me how to fly a kite in the park at the end of the street."
Again she had flashbacks, this time it was of her dad holding her upright on her bike and running up and down the driveway next to her. He never let her fall.
"On my last birthday he surprised me with pink roses." The picture of him handing her those flowers flashed by.
"I share hot fudge sundaes with him and ice cream in a cone. He'd wipe my face when the ice cream starts to melt all over".
And although you cannot see him, I'm not standing here alone. He is always with me. I know because he told me. 'I'll be forever in his heart.'"
With that, her little hand reached up and lay across her chest. She could feel her little heart beating in her chest beneath her favorite dress. In her other hand she clutched the plastic figurine of a unicorn. It was the present he won for her at the fair. It was always in her back pack or nearby. It was always in her reach. It stayed on her night stand when she went to sleep at night.
She stood up in front of that room, for the love of a man no longer in her life, not doing what was best for her, not doing what was right for his child.
She dropped her hand back to her side and stared straight into the crowed room and in a soft voice said, "I love my Daddy very much. He is my shining star and if he could he would be here too. "
"But heaven is just too far away."
"My Daddy was a soldier, a sergeant in the Army, and he died last year. His truck was hit by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. Mom said he died helping some of his men survive"
"When Mom and I went to Washington and met the president, he told me my Dad was a hero and gave me a medal. Mom put the medal in a fancy glass box on the fireplace. When I look at it I'm supposed to think of my Daddy. But I don't need the box. When I close my eyes it's never like he went away"
Then she closed her eyes and slowly a smile crossed her face.
Mrs. Perkins looked around the room and saw some of the fathers and children with their eyes closed. No one knew what they saw in front of them or what they felt onside. Perhaps for a fraction of a second, they saw him at his daughter's side.
To the silence in the room, Ella cried out, "I know you're with me Daddy, I love you."
Ella's mom, who was standing in the rear of the room, cried out in pain for her lost husband and for her child.
"God bless the soldiers who give up so much for us, and the ones they leave behind."