Twenty fours years ago I called my husband to ask him to pick up ice-cream on his way home from work. It wasn’t something I’d done before, but still he didn’t have a clue that I had a bigger treat for him when he arrived home. That’s the night he got the news:
You’re going to be a dad!
Our daughter is a wonder and that is mostly a tribute to her own hard work and good heart. But, she’s a lot like her Dad. He’s an intellectually curious person with varied interests and those traits became evident in Natalie very early in her life.
I need only to tell you about my daughter’s favorite outfit at the age of four. She wore, nearly everyday, a green t-shirt with a picture of her favorite dinosaur, the Brachiosaurus, purchased by her Dad at the Field Museum gift store on a business trip to Chicago. She paired it with a pale pink (from the pink shed pink) sparkling tutu and tennis shoes that lit up when she jumped.
My husband used to say: “I want her to be well-rounded.” And, he made sure that she was. He read to her often…books about nature, space, travel, heroines and adventures.
It would be years later that the two of them took a National Geographic sponsored trip together to dig for dinosaur bones in the mountains of Colorado. Natalie returned having decided that perhaps paleontology was not the best career choice for her. They came home with sunburns, but also found treasures and vivid stories of the desolate terrain, intense heat and thick chocolate milkshakes in the hotel room at the end of each day.
During the school years, my husband provided well so that I could choose to become a stay-at-home mom. Work was hectic but family was unquestionably his priority. We especially treasured time spent on the beach in California or Maui. He and Natalie were expert sand castle builders.
One of my favorite family stories took place on Natalie’s first trip to Hawaii. She and her Dad were completing a fabulous sand structure, when suddenly Natalie jumped up screaming. I could see her from the water running along the beach with a crab dangling from her finger. She had evidently upset one of the beach residents with her digging and he’d bit her in protest. My husband came to her rescue as I made my way to the shore. The next day he encouraged her to return to her work on the beach…with her finger properly bandaged.
He also nurtured an appreciation for art in our daughter. Although, she hated it at the time, her father commissioned a portrait artist and she had to sit for him for several hours so that he could capture her image on a huge canvas that hangs in our living room. She enjoyed much more the many trips to the theater in San Francisco and the museums in London.
When it came time for Natalie to pick a college, it was her Dad who accompanied her on the tours. It seemed only fitting to give him that pleasure as I had been the one to shuttle Natalie between home and school and the dentist and volleyball practice in the early years. Their father/daughter road trips to universities were a final bonding experience before Natalie became a self-sufficient adult.
Now that self-sufficient adult is riding out the pandemic at home with Mom and Dad. I feel so blessed to be able to skip the news articles about troublesome family dynamics in pandemic times. Natalie and her Dad are happy together watching a nature documentary or driving in the convertible or just shooting the breeze on a hot lazy day.
I am so grateful to the man at the center of my happy little family. He’s a remarkable husband and father.