14

Dear Liv,

It seems like yesterday I was rocking you in the middle of the night, playing Madden 64.

You were a tough sleeper – you hated it.  So I’d sit downstairs with you, all night, every night.  I’d rock you.  I’d lay you on a pallet on the floor.  I cranked that stupid hand-me-down swing so many times that it finally gave out, at 5:30 one Thanksgiving morning.  I loaded you up and headed off to the K-mart for an emergency replacement.

I remember taking you to your first doctor’s appointment.  Me and you.  I was a terrified 23 year old dad, with no concept of well rooms and co-payments.  I remember cradling you in my arms after you shrieked because that crazy nurse tried to weigh you.  I couldn’t believe it either.

I remember you playing in the bathtub with Coleman, when neither of you were big enough to get out.

I remember working day and night building you a swingset, doing everything I could to make it by Christmas morning, and barely squeaking it in under the wire.

I remember dance recitals, and basketball games.  Soccer matches and hunting trips.  I remember you catching your first redfish, off a dock at Little Gasparilla – you were wearing pajamas with pumpkins on them, and you were barely big enough to hold the pole and reel at the same time.

I remember you cussing at the tv over a Halo match when you were 3.  I remember every Saturday, every single one . . . I’d get up at the crack of dawn with you, and I’d lay on the couch, and you’d sit on my back and we’d watch cartoons.

I remember trips to Andy’s, and school field trips.  Taking you to Space Camp.  Having to get you to school early for “Good Morning Lake Shipp.”  Did I ever tell you how much I love taking you to school?  I wrote a blog post about it one time, remembering when I’d sing the Longhorn Song for you . . .

I remember our Harry Potter trip (if you’ve never read this post, you really should – I wrote it about you and Harry Potter years ago).  One of my proudest days as a dad, from the sense of being able to do something for my daughter that I knew she wanted.  I remember every fish you’ve ever caught, almost always followed by the question . . . “can we keep it?”

I remember boat rides, and birthday parties, and trick-or-treating and church . . . bunk beds and room makeovers . . . school dances and radio sing-a-longs . . . Horse drawn carriage rides to look at Christmas lights . . . running around DC with your $2 flip-flops . . . shrimp boils and peanut boils and frying more chicken than should be allowed, just to see your face light up . . . making you clean your room and do yard work and wash cars and load the dishwasher and say “yes ma’am” . . . teaching you to swim, and feigning disapproval at your bathing suit choices . . . taking you for a ride in a convertible . . . sleeping on the floor in the living room so you could have my bed . . . coaching you on Fantasy Football, only to have you leave me high and dry as the season progressed . . . eating oysters and sushi . . .

It’s all happened in about 15 minutes.  I blinked and you were grown.  No longer a little girl.  A young lady.  A young woman.

And now Dad gets to become more of a spectator, albeit one screaming and cheering and holding up signs from the sidelines . . . hooting and hollering and wishing and praying for my girl . . .

I remember looking down into that clear little bassinet thing they have you in at the hospital.  I remember loving you so much that it physically hurt, and wondering how that could be, since you were only a few minutes old.  And I remember you wrapping your little fingers around my big finger, and I knew I was yours, and you were mine . . .

Happy Birthday Liv . . .

Love,

Dad

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