My eldest daughter, Haley Anne (She prefers that I call her “Haley” – but, I won’t. I gave her that middle name for her Nana – my own Mother, Barbara Anne) is twelve.
She is gorgeous, bright, witty – and, the world sings around her. She is also a formidable Defender, and a Captain on her Football (Soccer) team.
I am proud of her. I trust her judgement; and, I am becoming more and more impressed with her insightfulness. We both LOVE music.
We share iTunes
But, Haley Anne is pushing the envelope with her Mother (that would be Joanne).
Joanne is stubborn in her own right. Spirited and willful.
But, I dare not draw that comparison (Well… Not openly any way) when they find themselves at odds.
Perhaps I will write about the Mother and Daughter thing another time. But, at least for today, Haley Anne is my “Daddy’s Girl”, and it’s just fun to be amazed and delighted with her (except she can be a real pig – especially when it comes to her room and leaving dishes every where).
Having said that… She and her Mother went a few rounds this afternoon. While listening to Haley Anne attempt to make her case (an important part of growing – right?), I was struck by the realization that she really was twelve – on the verge of being a teenager, and many an adventure just around the corner.
And, it was then I remembered one of my own first (and likely most dangerous) adventures that made me want to just hug her the rest of the day.
Off we go…
By the time I was twelve, I was much more than the typical handful. I had already been winning national AAU championships as an age group runner and pentathlete. I had started my first business (lawn care and fence painting /1). And, learned that I was indestructible by jumping off a three story radio tower using silk sheets from Mrs. Burton’s bed for a home made parachute /2.
I was a pretty good kid – just like Haley Anne. But, we were moving every two years because Dad was a career Air Force Officer. Dad was being transferred from Offutt Air Force Base (we lived in Papillion) Nebraska to Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson Arizona. I think he was making Lieutenant Colonel (he retired as a full Colonel. He had a star (General) coming, but declined it when we knew Mom was not going to make it /3). Mom and Dad thought I needed more stability. So, they enrolled me in a prestigious Military School in Massachusetts. It took me less than a week to sort out that I had an “issue with authority” (according to the commandant). So, I left.
It took me about ten days to hitch hike pretty much across the country. I slept in a few cars; one rail car; under one bridge; two trees; and, one lawn chair (next to a Holiday Inn pool).
It was tons of fun. I talked to a lot of people; made a friend or two.
Apparently it took the school two days to realize I was missing; and, another two days to track Mom and Dad down.
I hit Tucson just three days after my family had moved in. The Lieutenant Colonel that commanded the Air Police met me at the main gate and grimly escorted me (with a squad no doubt for effect) to our base quarters – lights flashing.
Mom was waiting for me in the front doorway. My younger brother Greg was apparently down the street playing with some kids we had known from a previous duty post. I pulled myself out of the jeep and stood on the sidewalk contemplating Mom – and, of course, trying to conjure up some witicism.
But, my stomach growled. You could hear it a mile away.
Mom burst into tears, and drew back into the house.
I found her on the brown sofa that had been part of my life for – well- twelve years /4. She wasn’t crying. She was just shaking her head. I sat next to her. I could not say I was sorry (I see that in Haley Anne). I really just wanted to tell her all about the trip. I wanted to remind her about the stories her own great Nana Lenci had shared with me about Mom and her high diving; and crawling out of windows; stealing a bike; pretending to be a boy and getting a grocery delivery job…
But, instead, I just put my head on her shoulder. She put her hand on my knee and sort of squeezed it (I just know she wanted to ask me about under wear). After a few minutes she stood up and asked me if I wanted a sandwich.
“And soup” I added.
Then Dad came through the door.
One day I will Blog about when I was seventeen and my Dad told me I did not have the discipline to attend the United States Naval Academy (I had an appointment – but, he was right), and how I informed my Dad I did not need his help with college. What happened at, during, and after Radford University, makes all of this other story sublime.
I hope Joanne reads this story. One day I suspect Haley Anne will too. I don’t necessarily want Haley Anne and her sister Emma Jo to follow my footsteps. But, I do have their backs (and, that of their own Mom). And, I know great adventure, life and love lie ahead.
“Borrowed Time” by John Lennon. And, Huckleberry Finn my favorite (id)iot.
2/ I write about this in an earlier Blog Post – “Happy Birthday Mom”.
4/ Those that serve in the Military work hard; often sacrifice everything – but don’t make much money.