Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Fathers Day

Early light lit the room, but without sleep it was strange to think of it as morning. The hard work of the last seventeen hours had made sleep impossible for both of them. This was a different world, entered through the exhausting and frightening trial of labor and delivery, the helpless feelings he'd had while his wife had worked so hard, the elation when his new daughter was born. Part of him was waiting for things to get back to normal; this would all be over soon, and they could go home. Part of him knew that things would never be the same, though he hoped life with a baby would be easier than last night.

He met his mother and sister at the door of their birthing room, because the baby and his wife were sleeping. The first nursing had been tiring for both of them, and now they were quietly napping side by side. He thought his little girl favored her mother, though his relatives saw mostly their side of the family. His mother and sister had commented on the baby's complexion being so like his, but he saw his wife in the tiny girl. The same red handle, the same lines of spade. Certainly the handle was a lot shorter than his wife's, but baby proportions are so much different, and during the teen years she would lengthen and get those same lovely lines that had attracted him.

Suddenly thinking of teenage boys looking at his daughter made his head swim. He felt as if he stood on the edge of a huge new garden, and the vastness took his breath away. How in the world could he ever manage to water all those plants, carry all that water not only for himself and for his wife, but for his daughter now, too? Fatherhood seemed like an impossible role to fill.

Then he realized that he would do it the same way he had always done - three gallons at a time. Maybe more trips to the hose, more hours on the job, and certainly more work at home, but it wasn't anything he couldn't manage. He said goodbye to his sister, and to his mother, and joined his wife and new baby for a nap.

(Fathers Day morning my dear wife and I returned from a walk and this arrangement was there, by the spigot, just waiting for this picture. Happy Fathers Day to all dads - mine, yours, you and me.)

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