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Father and Daughter

Sep 02 2019

I've never met Paul Simon; never so much as sent him a fan letter.  So how on earth did he see inside my soul and write a song that has spoken into so many moments of my life since he released it in 2003.  "Father and Daughter" has been the sound track as I've watched three daughters grow up, dance, play sports, make friends, fall in and out of love, graduate, and generally live life. And it was the song playing on repeat in my heart yesterday as my wife, Sue and I dropped off our youngest girl, Rose, at the University of Maine at Fort Kent, 300 miles from home.

We moved Rose, a nursing major, into her suite she shares with three other girls.  It's actually a very nice set up: two bed rooms, a nice living area overlooking the soccer field, a kitchenette and bathroom.  This will be more home to her now than her little bedroom of 17 years here in our house in western Maine.  But her childhood room will always be here for her.  And I hope the memories of growing up in Bridgton, Maine will comfort her when she's having a bad day.

If you ever awake
In the mirror of a bad dream

And for a fraction of a second,
You can't remember where you are
Just open your window
And follow your memories
Upstream

 

We spent the weekend prior to moving in at what has literally been her second home since birth.  I have been the director of a summer camp in Mapleton, Maine since 2005, so this is where we have spent our summers for 15 years.  Mapleton is about an hour from Fort Kent, and the camp was having its annual Labor Day Retreat.  This was a win-win as it gave her a chance to see some long time friends for a few days and it put us much closer to our ultimate destination of UMFK than if we left from home.  

Camp has been good to Rose and all of us over all these past summers.  There were our walks to the frog pond, where she and I not only caught but named perhaps every frog that lived there.  There was the last day of camp when she and I watched a red squirrel on our cabin's porch and fed it crumbs of bread.  She declared what would normally be a sad final day "the best day ever."  There were the nights of watching fairies (lightning bugs) on the hillside.  And there was this most recent final weekend before college during which, among other things included going out for donuts and coffee with the other teens and early twenties she has known for so long.

 

Follow your memories
upstream
To the meadow in the mountain
Where we counted every falling star

I kept it together when Sue and I said good-bye, but I shed more than a few tears on the first few miles of our ride home.  This was our little girl who we thought we lost to miscarriage several months into our pregnancy.  This was the little girl we took to speech therapy as a second grader, who we helped with phonics, a subject that seemed to make no sense to her.  This was the girl who, like her older sisters, we protected, healed, coached and cheered on for 17 years. Now we wouldn't be as accessible when she was afraid, discouraged, or lonely.  But we will always be in her corner doing everything we can in our new roles as parents of a young adult.

Though I can't guarantee there's nothing scary
Hidin' under your bed
I'm gonna
Stand guard
Like the postcard
Of the golden retriever
And never leave
'Til I leave you
With a sweet dream in your head

Like every parent dropping off their kids yesterday, Sue and I were full of pride, but also reminders to 'make good choices' and 'choose good friends'.  Rose has a good head on her shoulders, and a solid moral compass for a not-yet-18-year-old.  She has done mission trips without us since age 12, and showed a whole new level of maturity last summer when we spent a month in Uganda (on a slight tangent, as I was hugging her good-bye, the radio was playing Toto's "Africa", another song that meant a lot to us in the year leading up to, during and since that trip to East Africa.)  We need to trust that we've laid the foundation she needs to do well.  But even more importantly, I hope she knows that when she makes the inevitable bad choices that come with the transition to adulthood, we will have shown her that God is a God of grace and forgiveness, without which we are all, young and old, lost.

Trust your intuition
It's just like going fishin'
You cast your line and

Hope you get a bite

Rose is majoring in nursing, and dreams of perhaps serving on the mission field in the future.  She has the amazing capacity to go from a goofy and giggly girl to a fervent and ferocious woman of faith on a dime.  But for now, as she settles in, makes friends, prepares to leave behind the required and often dull curriculum of high school and actually learn about stuff she's interested in, I pray she can enjoy the moment and not worry yet about what lies ahead.

You don't need to waste your time
Worryin' about the marketplace
Trying to help the human race
Struggling to survive

It's as harsh as night

In the end, I have to believe that Jesus goes with her. I believe she has encountered that Jesus - the One who transcends denominations, and certainly political opinions, the One who stoops down to observe the very Universe He created- And He will never leave her or forsake her.  She may doubt, but He'll be there.  She may run, but He'll be there. She may grow complacent, but He'll be there.  Forever.

I believe the light that shines on you

Will shine on you forever

It's scary letting a child go.  The world is hard and the future is uncertain.  There will be ups and there will be downs.  But, Rose, your mother and I will be there for you the best we know how, and we are tremendously proud and excited for you.  And, as long as one and one is two, there will never be a father love his daughter more than I love you.

I'm gonna watch you shine
Gonna watch you grow
Gonna paint a sign
So you always know
As long as one and one is two
There could never be a father
Love his daughter more than I love you

 

 

 

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