I watched a video today, why I don’t know, that featured a big, burly guy sitting in his car talking to his toddler daughter who was sitting on the console. The sound was off so I didn’t get the details but I knew she was telling him about something sad. She burst into tears.

He listened to her, nodding. She talked through her little sobs. He asked her some questions. She answered. He waited for her to answer, no rushing, no prompting. He didn’t wipe away her tears or comfort her. He didn’t look the least bit sorry for her. He just sat listening until she came around.

And when she was all done, when whatever it was that made her so sad and upset had abated, she crawled on to her dad’s chest and he wrapped his massive arms around her. My God, I thought. Did that ever happen to me?

I envied her.

This old lady envied that little girl.

Oh. I had a good father. But he would have no more sat and listened to me cry than he would have roller skated down the freeway. So if I was going to cry, I had to tend to my own self. I remember hugging him but only once or twice. I was an adult by then; I’d grown up and he’d started to diminish, a man grieving the death of my mother. His arms were too weak to wrap around me.

I thought more about the little girl in the car. When she was grown up, she’d have a whole lifetime of her dad doing that – listening to her and then wrapping his arms around her.  What would a person be like who grew up with that kind of care and protection?

I don’t know but I know I envied her. I wish that little girl had been me.

____________

Photo: Caleb Woods