“Are you going to keep your daughters or give them to the family to raise? A single man raising two girls (twins) is a great responsibility requiring sacrifice and discipline. Are you ready for that?” I couldn’t believe I was being asked those kinds of questions. “There is nothing to be ready for. They are my daughters and I’m going to continue to love them as I always have”, I said to her. She sighed with relief saying that when her mother died, her father gave her to his family to raise and it always bothered her. She said she felt like he did not want her.
I told her that the idea of giving my daughters to anyone never once occurred to me. They had just turned 11 years old and had recently lost their mother. They were not going to lose their father to.
We were just about to get into the elevator when the conversation shifted to shop talk. We got off and went our separate ways.
On my way home, I thought about the conversation and I could not help but wonder how she must have felt when her father left her. It would probably be worse than I could ever imagine.
Nevertheless, the question was a very intrusive and sensitive one coming from someone who, even though we got along nicely, was not a friend. Still, I was glad she asked it, because it made me reflect on my daughter’s future without Mom, or me without them. I got the sense that my co-worker was being maternally protective about my girls because of her own experience. At the time, I could not appreciate her concern. But, soon after I did and told her as much when I thanked her for caring.
I did not get the sense that her concern was about a man raising a girl. I think it was about a man loving his daughter enough to be with her going forward in her mother’s absence. At the same time, I believe it was her father’s concern that he, being a man, would not be able to raise a girl, the daughter he loved.
Not long after Mom had slipped into the other side of Time, it was my girls and I alone. Mom’s family was a big one, but they also became absent. I had to go it alone. Fortunately, for us, my sister Dahlia and her husband Pete would visit for two weeks out of the year and believe me, it made a big difference. You see, they lived two thousand miles away. Their aunt, Mom’s sister, lived just ten minutes away. There is a story here and perhaps one day I will write about it. But not here and not now. I say this much. It is a sad, ugly and hurtful story.
Anyway, I was able to attended to all my daughters’ needs. There were the routine visits with their primary care doctor, cardiologist, dentist and their yearly visit with their optometrist. Then there was the rest of their daily lives and ours as a family. I always told my girls that I would provide them with everything they would need and give them most of what they wanted, and so it was. They were and are still good girls in every respect and deserve the world.
They never stopped being good students making good grades. In high school, they enrolled in the International Baccalaureate Academy, graduated Summa Cum Laude and were awarded free rides at F.I.U. They are seniors now and continue doing well and are usually on the Dean’s List.
Mom’s family were also absent for their Honors graduation, proms and birthdays. Still, aunt Dahlia traveled 2000 miles to be here for them and the celebrations were nonetheless loving, funny, happy and memorable ones.
Otherwise, most of the time ours was a world of three. But we were more than enough for each other. We lived in a home where when you walked in, you could tell that Love lived there. We were at best happy or, at worst, content. Either way, most of the time we were good.
By the way, it never dawned on me that what I was doing was difficult or that it required great responsibility. It was comments made to and about me by my best friend and by friends of Mom that gave me reason to reflect. The comments were more about doubts they might have had with respect to my willingness and ability to raise my girls on my own and their surprise that my daughters were doing exceedingly well in every respect. It was as though no one thought I could raise two 11-year-old girls, my daughters. Then again, there were those, who with their sad, ugly and hurtful ways, bet that I couldn’t. Obviously they lost, and in more ways than one.
So gentlemen, the bottom line is that the love you have for your daughters will be the driving force needed to endure and overcome obstacles that surely will pop up. You just have to trust. It will allow your daughters to say, “Daddy wanted me and kept me and I am happy for that. Thank you Dad.”
In turn it will allow you to say, “I’m happy I did. Thank you daughter.”
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