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How did we ever come to this pass?
I know that you're growing up. It amazes me how quickly these years have passed us by, left us two different beings than we were in that once upon a time. You are my step-daughter but that's simply semantics, a way for people outside our family to define our relationship. To me, you are simply my daughter.

When I came along, you were just starting to stand and toddle about. I watched over you, stopped many of your crashes into furniture or the floor, failed to stop many others. I rode you on my knee, fed you, changed your diaper. I never begrudged any of those tasks but enjoyed being able to do them for you. I don't know how it can be that you so fully captured me, but there it is.

I know that also in the flow of time that you'll eventually choose a mate, a man to stand alongside you on your journey. That's the way of it, isn't it? In considering that eventuality, there are a few things I want to pass along. These are the musings of an old Dad, a few thoughts that might bear consideration.

Seek the best!
First and foremost, I suggest finding a man whom you honestly think is better than yourself. That sounds bizarre, I know, but there are good reasons for it. If you find such a man, rest assured he isn't as good as you think. Love is indeed blind and you'll gloss over many of his faults. Trust me, he has faults, we all do. So when you deduct the negative figure of his unseen faults from his total score, he'll hopefully be about even with you.

Secondly, if by chance you actually do find someone genuinely better than yourself, he will tend to elevate you to his level. It's a good thing in a relationship if we can find ways in which to help the other become a better person. All the time pray he does the same for you.

Ask yourself the right questions
Never ask yourself if he's a man you can live with. That is the wrong question to ask. The correct question is whether you can live without him. The answer is, of course, yes you can. But if it would be uncomfortable, something to be dreaded, something you don't even want to consider, then he is a serious candidate. People can live with many things. That doesn't mean you would want to do so. I can live with a hernia, pigeon toes, and thinning hair, but it certainly doesn't mean it's something I want to do.

Just how long is that 'forever' part again?
A lifetime can be a very long time. When a couple marry they stand in front of a minister and blithely promise 'till death do us part'. Sometimes when things go badly one wonders if that Grim Reaper couldn't perhaps get his dark-clad butt in gear, swing that scythe, and get things over with. Time is such a trickster, making the good days sail past like shooting stars while the bad times drag along like molasses in late January. A lifetime can be a dishearteningly long time if spent in misery.

I know many people think if things go poorly then divorce is always an option. There are good and valid reasons to seek a divorce. No couple marries planning for the destruction of that marriage. You both want to succeed, and that's normal and right. Sometimes obstacles present themselves to sustaining that marriage relationship. You will either overcome them or be defeated by them. I suggest that you plan for success, not failure.

But Dad, I'm lonely!
There are some things worse, much worse, than being lonely. Being alone can be bad, true enough, but even worse is being alone while in a relationship. Being lonely is a state of mind. You can be single and still not be alone. Being alone gives us time to think, reflect, decide, become, all those wonderful things that are difficult to achieve in the company of others. Loneliness is the acutely uncomfortable feeling or sense of being alone. There are ways to alleviate that condition short of being in a bad relationship.

Take your time, get to know him. Sometimes relationships develop an inertia, a momentum that carries them forward ever faster. Resist that pull. It's not easy to ride the brakes but it's worse to be out of control.

He may be good, but he's not Superman!
Realize that he can't make you happy, but he darn sure can make you miserable. Happiness is something that you find within yourself. He can help you find it and when you do, he can help you enjoy it. It's always more fun to share the good things, isn't it? Happiness is within you for the finding.

Don't expect him to be your everything. He isn't large enough to fill those shoes. There is sometimes a tendency to immerse yourselves in each other, to exclude everyone else until you are a universe of just two. Realize that this makes for a terribly small universe. Remember that the reason the stars are so beautiful is because they don't crowd each other but give one another room to shine. Keep room for some space, some time apart, separate interests.

That's all for now. I'll probably think of a million other things I want to say, and like most people I won't get around to saying them. Life is like that sometimes, we miss the chance to say the things that matter to those who mean the most to us. I've not always been the most attentive Dad, or the most communicative. For that I can only ask your forgiveness. I desire your happiness, but not yours alone. My wish is that the two of you set out on a treasure hunt that never ends. Remember that while he loves you, he's not the only one. I do too, and I always will.

Warning...

For those of you who can’t stomach sentimental claptrap, I suggest you move on. For those of you who don’t mind that sort of stuff, please read on. You can’t buy this kinda stuff from Hallmark

On the occasion of my 50th birthday my kid gave me this handwritten card encased in plastic that outlined the “50 Reasons Why I Love My Dad”. I thought I noded it here somewhere but for the life of me I can’t seem to find it.. It still holds a place on the mantle in my living room and every time I look at it I get this warm and fuzzy feeling and turn misty eyed and somehow the day seems better.

Anyway, my kid turned fourteen a little while ago and I felt it was time to reciprocate. These were my words to her and I hope she cherishes them as much as I cherish hers.

50 Reasons Why I Love My Kid

Some come to laugh their past away
Some come to make it just one more day
Whichever way your pleasure tends
If you plant ice you’re gonna harvest wind

Excerpt from the Grateful Dead tune called Franklin’s Tower

When the music finally fades and the jewelry is tucked away safely in a case somewhere in your room and is destined to be forgotten, when the clothes don’t fit anymore or fall out of fashion and when time and distance seem to stretch to infinity the only things that’s left are words and feelings.

Here are my words, here are my feelings. I hope you keep them and treasure them the same way I’ve kept yours.

When the candle that is my life flickers and begins to fade, you bring me light.

When I can’t recall the trivial events of what happened yesterday, your memory will always linger.

When the pictures are safely tucked away in an album or somewhere on a disc and seldom get to see the light of day, your image is etched into my heart and my brain.

You are my child and I am your dad and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And no matter how old you get or how far you travel I’ll always be there right beside you.

I’ll be there to comfort you in times of turmoil and share your joy as you wind your way through what life has to offer.

And as you get older I’ll rejoice and flash back in time when smiles and laughter came free and easy and there wasn’t such a steep price to pay for such simple things.

As you go through life’s journey, do so with your head held high and your heart pure and you’ll have no regrets. Be true to yourself and all the rest will follow.

Never, ever forget how proud I am of you and how proud you should be of yourself.

In return for what you once gave me, I now try and give to you 50 Reasons Why I Love My Kid.

1) Your questions, your amazing questions that you ask and your willingness to hear an answer.
2) Your open, inquisitive mind that takes delight in learning.
3)Your ability to prioritize what is right and what is wrong and to choose the right path.
4)Your independence and to not follow the crowd no matter where the crowd is headed.
5) Your trustworthiness. You have never given me a reason to doubt you. When you say you’re gonna do something, you do it.
6) Your smile and laughter in times of joy.
7) Your frowns and tears in times of sorrow.
8) Your ability to see through the past and into the future.
9) Your commitment to learning. You are wise beyond your years and your peers.
10) Your compassion for people and things in need.
11) Your ability to adapt yourself to your surroundings. Your childhood was not a conventional one and you made the best of it.
12) Your ability for forgive people when they have treated you badly.
13) Your common sense approach to complex problems.
14) Your poems and your stories that reveal to people a side of yourself that they otherwise wouldn’t see.
15) Your honesty about your feelings and your willingness to share them.
16) Your willingness to talk through problems rather than just shut them down.
17) Your ability to see the deeper meaning in things and through the transparency that lies on the surface.
18) Your hugs and kisses that can be felt long after the hugging and kissing is done.
19) Your joy in knowing that a job, be it sports or in school, is well done.
20) Your frustration when the job is not well done.
21) Your ongoing quest to improve yourself.
22) Your ability to adapt to the challenges and changes that surround you on a daily basis.
23) Your patience when I want to listen to my tunes and not yours.
24) Your persistence when trying to comprehend something you can’t quite grasp
25) Your understanding that there are two sides to every story and until you hear both, the story is not complete.
26) Your simple approach to life. Yu don’t have all the luxuries other kids your age might have but you make the best of the things you do.
27) Your command of language and words and the knowledge of the power that lies beneath them.
28) Your sincerity in giving 100% no matter the task at hand.
29) Your ability to converse with people who are much older than you and to do so on their level.
30) Your civil manner and politeness and respect you show my friends een when I know that often times you’d rather be somewhere else.
31) Your ability to see right through me when most all most others see is what’s on the surface.
32) Your ability to remain non-judgemental when it comes to other peoples faith, beliefs and lifestyles.
33) Your awareness of the politics that surround you each and every day.
34) Your understanding that the world is a very big place and there is enough room for people who’s views differ from yours.
35) Your shared joy when beloved G-Men or Buckeyes win a football game.
36) Your anticipation of going to new places and new schools and not to be intimidated by things that at first glance seem unfamiliar.
37) Your willingness to set the trend rather than follow it. This is what a true leader does.
38) Your unwillingness to complain even though sometimes you have every right to.
39) Your commitment to your physical and mental health and well being.
40) Your memories that you gave to me whether you knew it or not.
41) Your ability to accept guidance when guidance is called for.
42) Your belief that actions and deeds speak much louder than mere words.
43) Your candor and openness when you’ve done something wrong and you ability to admit your mistakes and to try and correct them.
44) Your search for the truth even though the truth itself sometimes hurts.
45) Your realization that no matter how hard it is to believe, people are not perfect. They will make mistakes. I know I did and you know I did but yet, we move on.
46) Your kindness towards animals and kids that are younger and smaller than you.
47) Your love of reading books that run the gamut of topics.
48) Your love of travel and the experience you’ve gained from trips overseas and around the country.
49) Your comprehension of the world around you.
50) And through all of that, through all of the forty nine reasons that I’ve listed, the last one is the most important. You make everybody else, especially me, a much better person just by being you.

With more love than you can ever imagine,

Dad

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