There was something almost magical about the bond between Pop and me. It began when I was roughly three years old. Most afternoons, I stared out the picture window in our living room and waited until I heard his rickety pickup truck round the corner.
“Daddy’s home,” I squealed, bolting out the door and greeting him at the edge of the driveway. He picked me up and threw me up in the air, letting me go before catching me and carefully easing me down to the ground.
“I love you, Sweetie,” he said.
“I love you, Daddy!”
We walked hand-in-hand into the house where he removed his boots, slid into his easy chair, and sipped on the heavily sweetened coffee Mother brought him.
“Would you like to join me for some coffee?” he asked.
I nodded and climbed onto his lap where I enjoyed spoonfuls of his coffee, patiently waiting until he took the last sip.
“Blow me some smoke rings, Daddy. Please!”
He retrieved a cigarette from his pocket, placing it between his fingers and bringing it to his mouth. Like a magician, he flipped open his lighter, bringing the flame to the tip of the cigarette and lighting it.
He waved the lit cigarette like a fiery magic wand in front of my exclaiming, “Abrakadabra!” Then he obliged me, blowing countless smoke rings toward the ceiling.
Pop had a magical air about him and in whatever he did—whether he was teaching me my ABCs, slaying the monsters under my bed, or showing me how to ride a bike, tie my shoes, and bait a hook before casting my line into the water.
I felt his magic when he walked me to my first-grade classroom. Before letting me go, he hugged me and said, “You’re my brave daughter.” When I entered junior high, I again felt the magic in his encouraging words. “You’re my beautiful, brave daughter! You’re becoming a young woman right before my eyes!” Throughout junior high and on into high school he put up with my teenage moods, his magic never wavering.
When I graduated from high school and college, Pop stood proud and clapped, making me feel as if anything was possible for me. When I moved 1,000 miles away, he hugged me just as he’d done when I entered first grade. His parting words, you’re my brave daughter, were like a magic wand he waved over me giving me the courage I needed to strike out on my own.
Years later, he escorted me down the aisle. “You’re my pride and joy,” he said with tears in his eyes, graciously letting me go into the arms of another man.
Pop sprinkled magic on my days, holding my hand to ease my fears; hugging me close; disciplining me; wiping my tears; setting me straight; and courageously letting me go. A lifetime has passed, but our bond remains, constant as the moon glows making me strong and capable of weathering life’s occasional storms.