My dad passed away when I was eleven years old and at that age I wasn’t really worried about dating or having to bring a boy home. The only guy in my life who mattered to me then was my dad.
Here is a letter I think he would want only the most important man who will come into my life to read. Some of it pertains to my personal life, but other parts I think we can all relate to.
This is for girls who don’t have their fathers to share this experience with. I love you all.
To They Guy I Would Have The Pleasure Of Intimidating,
You’re about to date my daughter, who to me is the most amazing girl in the world. I say girl because to me she will always be my little girl.
To you she might be just any person but to the people in her life she is important, she is strong, she is smart, and she is kind.
My daughter is something else, you know that? She has been through a lot. I know you may be saying to yourself, “Haven’t we all?” But what matters is how she got through it, how she found a way to be there for herself, for her mother, and for everyone else.
I know she is my daughter and I’m a bit biased, but I really couldn’t have been more proud of her.
Besides all of that there are two important parts of my daughter that I feel like you should know — the way she was brought up and the first man she ever loved. This will help you understand the reason she is the way she is.
Her mom and I did our best to bring her up in the most normal lifestyle possible. We never revolved things around money or any other household problems that would steal any childhood away from her.
It was always about love and warmth in our house.
So, if there are times you can’t afford the expensive meal or plan extravagant dates, know that she is also happy with the small moments — the late night phone calls and midnight runs to the local diner. She deserves the best, but if sometimes it gets too hard she’ll understand.
In our home, nights were filled with family dinners and watching television together. Even when I was sick in the hospital we would all sit close and talk to one another every night until visiting hours were over. I still remember how tight she held me before she had to go.
So when she gives you long hugs for no reason or just wants to know everything about you, it’s not because she is attached to you already it’s because she loves to love and loves to know who people are.
It’s my fault that she loves baseball so much, and her mother’s for supporting it till this day. She loves watching it on television, but more importantly she loves watching it live. If you really want to get to know who she is take her to a game. She loves sitting in the stands while talking about life because that’s what she did with me when we would watch it on the couch.
God, what would I give to have one more moment like that with my little one.
Her mother and I fought like crazy, but also loved like crazy. My wife always got bent out of shape by the smallest things and I loved to add fuel to the fire. If my daughter ends up dating anyone like me you’ll probably have variations of the same fights; know that even when you’re right it’s easier to just give her a little space. My advice? Be the first one to end it.
My daughter is stubborn and will always stand her ground just like her mom, but she’s also easy to forgive, that she gets from me.
We were older when we had her so she was brought up on different music. So know that when she puts on Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin she is opening up her life to you. These are the sounds that she shared with her mom and I when she was growing up. It’s a gift she doesn’t give to many so appreciate it even if it is not a forever thing.
For the second part, the first man she ever loved…me. I was the first man to hold her, to make her feel safe, and most importantly to make her feel loved. In the very short amount of time I had with my daughter I tried to be the best example of a man that I could have been. Although I fought with my wife, I was never disrespectful to her, especially in front of my daughter.
I always tried my hardest to stop myself from cursing in the house even when I was angry because I wanted her to know men should never speak that way towards a woman. I did my best to make her laugh when she was happy and even more when she was sad.
I loved telling her stories because she always listened and always asked questions. I loved long car rides with her because it meant I got to hear her beautiful laugh, and her terrible singing voice. I remember her beautiful laugh and consider her singing voice to be more than bearable now, mostly because what I’d give to hear them both again.
What I’m really trying to say here is because of her mother and I, mostly me, my daughter may seem to have ridiculously high standards.
And with those high standards comes a girl who will do her best to always give you hugs, try to make you feel safe, and always love you as long as you let her. She will never disrespect you and will always expect the same in return. She will do her best to make you laugh when you’re happy and try even harder to do so when you’re sad.
She will love to tell you stories, but she will love even more to listen to yours.
She will love long car rides with you because it will remind her of better times in her life, but more importantly it will give her a reason to spend time with you. She will learn your favorite songs and sing them terribly, but it won’t matter because the fact is that she’s at least trying.
Appreciate it all because one day you might also give anything to hear it again.
Finally, I’ll leave you with this — even though you now know the deepest parts of my daughter I know that sometimes things just don’t work out.
I know relationships have bad timing or you stop getting along, I get it. When you’re absolutely sure there is no way it is going to work, don’t hurt her. Don’t just end it as if you’re ripping off a band-aid, let her know how you feel, give her closure. She hasn’t had much in her life, so don’t make it just another one of the unclosed doors.
She deserves better than that, all of the women that come into your life do. Remember that.
Oh, and if it does work out and you’re lucky enough to fall in love with her. Love her hard. And always know she’ll love you just the same.
A Father Who Loves His Little Girl
Read Niki’s other TDY essay: Don’t Ask Me How My Dad Died, Ask Me How He Lived