In spite of the observation being behind us, I had a few more words to offer on a day of honor. June 18, 1995 was my first Father’s Day, but the story begins a few weeks earlier.
The Best Girl in the World (TBGITW) was born May 13th of that year. But, somewhere around the 23rd or so is when everything changed.
We had had a fairly normal pregnancy* with all of the ups and downs that first-time expectant parents have no idea how to anticipate. The Lamaze classes were fine, though fairly useless due to a C-section delivery. The 50+ hours of labor due to small leak in the amniotic sack were no fun, especially with the shrieks of pain from another about to be new mother down the hall at the hospital in the delivery room at 5 a.m. (“Get it out, get it out…GET IT OOOOUUUUUUUTTTTT!!!!!!!”), but otherwise things were okay.
*-Yes, mothers do the heavy lifting, but good fathers are there for the duration. The first week in the life of TBGITW was a blur. But, there was one moment where my life was transformed -- after 35 years on the planet. My daughter was about ten-days old and I was holding her very carefully in my arms. I was supporting her head properly when she gazed into my eyes with a look of cognition.
Notice, I did not say "recognition" because that connotes having seen something before. No, this was a look of cognition. And what her little brown eyes told me in that moment was this: You Are My Father.
I have never been the same man again.
It remains hard to define exactly what all of this would mean over the course of time, but my world view was transformed in ways large and small. From that moment on I knew that there was a LOVE residing in my heart and soul that was infinite. That I would do anything to protect that little girl, and no matter what has transpired over the intervening years, my love for her has only grown.
My daughter was breast-fed, which meant a great deal of bonding time for she and her mother. It also meant that I would generally go to sleep at a normal time, get up in the morning refreshed to start another day in paradise. However, on this particular Saturday night/Sunday morning exhaustion due an acute lack of sleep led TBGITW’s mother to awaken me at 1:37 a.m. with a loud and clear statement: "Here—Take Your Daughter!"
With that, I was handed a wailing 5-week old infant while Mom turned around and went to bed. For the next five hours, this child was inconsolable. I held her in every position, including the traditional "Football" and the "I-Believe-I Can-Fly" one-hander. I am 6'5", so for that one she was seven and half feet from the ground looking down in wonder, which always worked before.
That stopped the crying for about eight seconds. I sang songs, did the light bounce while cooing stuff, walked around the apartment, and even tried reading Good Night, Moon. Nothing worked.
Finally, as I watched the sky go from black to cobalt blue, to lighter blue with beautiful multicolor clouds on the horizon, she fell asleep. In that moment I looked at the calendar in the kitchen and saw a little note next to June 18, 1995. Yup, it said “Happy Father’s Day!”
The truth is, when you experience that bottomless well of love a child provides you, Father's Day is everyday.