And Then I Became A Little Girl Again


This is a story about a father on mother’s day.

No matter how old I get, in the eyes of my father I’ll always be an innocent little girl who needs to be safeguarded.
As I’ve written before, while my dad is not as physically strong as he once was, he is still there to slay dragons, look out for my best interests and keep me from harm. Our best visits are now in the early morning when he’s well-rested. That’s when the damage from a stroke that leaves him searching for words from his once vibrant vocabulary seems the least obvious.

I find him on Sunday morning on the sofa watching Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in a movie called Desk Set. I take a seat next to him.

“Pammie, have you seen this movie? Her character reminds me of you.”

I shake my head no and we spend the next hour laughing and enjoying the witty dialogue. During commercial breaks we compare headlines from the New York Times. Not a word is said about Mother’s Day. (We had taken my mother out for a celebratory lunch some 24 hours before the full onslaught of mommydom on account of my flight departing at noon.)

An hour later I’m dressed and dropping him by the church at the end of our street. Despite his stroke he can, thankfully, still sing. He has a beautiful voice. The choir assembles early so my mother will join him later. We pull up to the curb. I get out of the car to say goodbye. I’m secretly grateful that I won’t have to go inside with him.

See also  Lost in Thought and The Pretender

In the last few minutes of our visit together, he grabs my hand and says haltingly, “You know this is the Mass where they have that awful display. When they ask all the mothers to stand. And all I can do is think of you and those like you and … ”

His eyes tear up. My eyes tear up. Neither of us know what to say next. And then I became a little girl again. I fall into his arms for a hug. He holds me tightly and whispers in my ear, “Goodbye, baby.”

I watch as he makes his way down the church steps and that’s when I have a good cry.

I had been able to avoid the mom-poolooza and the painful experience of sitting in church while all the women around me stand to be blessed but I couldn’t avoid the wave of emotions that the day inevitably brings forth. I’m just glad my dad was there to help make it all better.


40 Responses

  1. Emily

    May 13, 2008 1:38 pm

    What a beautiful post, Pam. I’m pretty close with my Dad, too … especially now after he had his open heart surgery. It’s wonderful to know that, despite all that I’ve (we’ve) been through … my Dad is still there to recognize our struggles and still be our dragon-slayers!

  2. loribeth

    May 13, 2008 2:10 pm

    *sniffle!* Must… stop… reading… blogs at work…!! (lol)

    Your dad sounds like a gem. Mine never says very much — but he often gets teary-eyed at the airport when we’ve been there for a visit. There’s nothing worse in the world to me than seeing my dad cry.

    He would have been such an excellent Grandpa. 🙁

  3. annacyclopedia

    May 13, 2008 2:37 pm

    Just had my good little weep for the day. What a beautiful post! There is something about my dad’s gentleness and love, too, that can make me feel like a little girl again. I’m so glad you have a father who understands you and understands what you go through.

  4. Deanna

    May 13, 2008 4:26 pm

    What a sweet, wonderful man. You’re so very lucky to have such an empathetic, considerate father. I’m glad he’s there to keep slaying the dragons.

  5. Courtney

    May 13, 2008 5:20 pm

    Okay, so now that I’ve stop crying my eyes out reading your story, I can comment…

    What a wonderful father you have to be so sensitive to his little girl. I have a similar relationship with my dad and yes, he still slays dragons for me too:)

    It was emotional day for all of us, that’s for sure, but I’m glad you had someone in your corner, giving you the strength you needed.

  6. luna

    May 13, 2008 5:41 pm

    like loribeth, I must stop reading at work. I’m all teary and sniffly. your dad sounds like a wonderful and empathetic man, full of love for you. what a tender moment. thanks for sharing.

  7. Kelly

    May 13, 2008 5:43 pm

    A beautiful post. I cried. Your Dad sounds like a wonderful man. He is lucky to have you as his little girl.

  8. Summer

    May 13, 2008 7:46 pm

    I’m glad you’re dad was there for you, too. It makes me weepy to think that while the women were asked to stand in church, you were the one your father had on his mind.

  9. Ann

    May 13, 2008 8:37 pm

    I hate it when churches have all the mothers stand up. One of the many reasons I love my church is this: On Sunday, all in one breath, the pastor said, “I’d like to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers. And today is Pentecost…” and that was that. There was much more focus on the church season than Mother’s Day. That’s the way it should be.

  10. Babystep

    May 13, 2008 10:06 pm

    I am weeping! And I am at work! I have to pull myself together now. I loved the image of you and your dad, and I loved how he said goodbye to you. Such a sweet story. You must have a lovely relationship.

  11. Chrissy

    May 13, 2008 11:11 pm

    You are very very lucky to have such an insightful dad. Honestly there aren’t that many men in general that would realize the depth of feelings that a day like mothers day can bring.

  12. Andie

    May 15, 2008 3:59 am

    Thanks so much for sharing this story – although it did bring moisture to my eyes too.

    I think seeing the pain of those we love is another one of the gut-wrenching side effects of infertility. There’s support that they share the pain with you but one can’t help wishing it was different.

    What a wonderful dad you have … the love and the bond you share is a real treasure.

  13. Portia P

    May 15, 2008 6:59 am

    Your Daddy sounds lovely – it’s very special that he “gets it”.

  14. PS

    May 15, 2008 11:11 am

    I stumbled across your blog a few weeks ago and can only say thank you for bringing in some perspective and sensitivity to this topic.

    After a long time of trying, we got pregnant only to discover a blighted ovum which was removed y’day by surgery. My 79-year old dad had tears running down his cheeks when he came to see me after the operation.

    I suppose we should count our blessings. Thanks for the blog and I look forward to your book when it comes out.

    P Salgame

    • Pamela Jeanne

      May 17, 2008 4:28 pm

      My condolences for your loss. I can only imagine how hard it was for you and your father after your surgery. Wishing you peace and strength. (And it makes me feel good to know that my writing provides some small help to you.)

  15. susan

    May 15, 2008 2:42 pm

    Pamela – what a beautiful post and such a tribute to the relationship you share with your father. Truly touching.

    Thanks so much for the call this week – it meant a lot to me. Look forward to catching up with you soon…

  16. May

    May 15, 2008 10:22 pm

    Your father is a lovely, GOOD man, and this story made me tear up. Bless him, and bless you too.

    In Britain, we hold Mothering Sunday before Easter, and I have yet to be to a service where they single out the mothers like that. But I could never bear to stand while others were sitting. I couldn’t do it. It’s too heartbreaking.

  17. From B

    May 16, 2008 1:40 am

    I almost did not notice the picture of little Pammie in the corner.

    To someone who is a mum to others

    I want to say thank you for taking care of me in these struggles. I know it is not the type of motherhood you wish for…..

    Thank God for dads hey.


  18. Rachel

    May 16, 2008 6:23 am

    You are lucky indeed to have him around. I miss my Dad so much, and I think I always will…

    “that awful display…” It is an awful display, and I’m sure it must tear your father apart to have to watch that (not to mention you not being able to sit through it of course – as if anyone could.)

    I am a deeply spiritual person, but I have yet to find a church where I feel really comfortable. I’m part Catholic, but we went to my Dad’s church (Methodist). I didn’t know they did this in church until I heard you talk about it. Don’t think I’ll be joining ANY church any time soon.

    I am quite convinced that God winces every time the Mothers stand.

  19. Ms Heathen

    May 16, 2008 11:58 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful story: your father sounds like an extraordinarily kind and empathetic man.

    On an entirely different note, I have a pink rose for you! Please stop by my blog and find out more!

  20. gabrielle

    May 16, 2008 1:29 pm

    My gosh, Pamela Jeanne, your dad sounds like the best dad ever. You are so lucky to have him, and he to have you.

    Funny how you plan and plan to brace yourself for big events and its the little ones that catch you completely offguard.

  21. Dreamer2007

    May 18, 2008 4:56 pm

    I love your dad. Wish I had one like him. Your story had reduced me to tears.

    Love, E

  22. Denise

    June 7, 2008 12:55 am

    Okay, I have never read your blog before today and this post made me cry like a baby!! I love your Dad. He is a wonderful man, I can tell.

    Love this post!!!

  23. Linda

    June 10, 2008 7:57 am

    Dear Pamela,
    Since I have spent the past few years reading everything there is on the Internet about infertility (I thought!) I can’t believe I just found your blog. I am so touched by your words; so moved by your example of strength and healing. I am writing about you on the blog I share with Marina Lombardo, And I am crying tonight as I read your words about your father. You might have been writing about my Dad, with his gentleness and round about way of dealing with tender topics. I watched my Dad grow older and frailer, and in 2004 lose his battle to cancer. The empty place he left in my life will never be filled, but for a moment, your words brought him back to me.
    Thank you for your blog and your eloquence.
    linda parker

  24. Angelyn Forbes-Freeze

    June 11, 2008 11:19 pm

    I, too, am a barren woman. Then I adopted a thrown-away child. To say it was a challenge is to belittle the trip, but now I am a grandmother who doesn’t know how to change diapers because my child was 8 when I found him. My husband was never a father – something he cries about when he thinks no one is looking. He’s an awesome grandfather, but still cannot feel that my son can somehow, in some ways, be his son as well. We do such disservice to ourselves – finding labels and living within the hurt those labels produce. I still cry sometimes, and I am almost 68. However, I have worked in a college since age 47. I have been mother, counselor, sister, aunt, grandmother to thousands of students whose lives have been changed by my presence. I think maybe that I wouldn’t be such a good “school mother” to my International students if I had been able to have children of my own. So I am grateful for what I have, and look upon the discovery of that troubled 8-year-old boy as a gift from God. He’ll be 37 this year and never did burn the house down or stab me to death in my bed (the social worker suggested he’d do both of these things.) He’s turned out to be a very good man, a wonderful husband and an awesome father. I cannot tell you how amazing it is to watch him and my daughter-in-law take care of 3 children (all under age 4). When I visit, I do loads of laundry, cook lots of meals, and read to everyone. I’m not really good with diapers (have put them on backwards, and stuffed both legs into one hole in the romper) but they are patient with both of us and love to have GranAn and Bumpa to play with.

    Your decision to mourn properly and move on is a healthy, though difficult one. I support you in your effort and hold your heart in your pain. My prayers are with you as you search for a piece of joy in every day. Open your eyes and really look. It is out there.
    Angelyn FF

  25. Roxanne

    June 12, 2008 1:37 am

    We had two failed pregnancies before our son, but had not reached the stage of seeking intervention. Knowing how much grief we had with those heartbreaks, I can’t even begin to imagine having repeated cycles of joy and expectation dashed over such a period. I do know that you are an extraordinary couple who are fulfilling many of the classic duties of parenting. Through your story you are guiding, teaching, and comforting the vulnerable and hurting. I wonder if you have children in your family or closest circle of friends with whom you can share a very special closeness and see personally the joy of watching your contributions help them grow. Children often sorely need someone other than parents to turn to with certain problems or to share certain dreams, and the satisfaction of lovingly filling that role is immeasurable. I do wonder if that is the case for you. Your lives are both wonderful and powerful. You are lucky indeed.

  26. Ashley

    February 20, 2010 4:04 pm

    If only everyone had the understanding and compassion that your father has. It’s people like him that make the un-compassionate people in this world bearable.

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