I remember the day the doctor told us that we were having a girl. It was just before our Anniversary Weekend. Every Anniversary weekend we would go to the island house on the ocean and enjoy the tranquility. Freeport is only a 15 minute drive from the island, and we loved walking through the shops on Main Street. This year I was on a mission. I was going to shop for our daughter-to-be. It was a beautiful weekend in Maine, Memorial Day parades were going on and there was a spirit in the air that was contagious. Everyone was happy, maybe because it was sunny and warm and it was fueling my mood. My mission was to shop for dresses for my daughter. I can’t remember for certain, but I think I bought you 5 complete outfits that day before your mother cut me off! I picked up shoes, summer hats, and all kinds of other “girly” things to go with them. I had so much fun.
On August 3,1990 you came into this world as one of the most beautiful babies I had ever seen in my life, looking very similar to your brother, nearly 3 years earlier. Holding you for the first time, I was absolutely spell-bound. You knew my voice as soon as I talked. Doctors said that it was coincidental, but I knew better. I was the proudest dad in the world that day, and remain to be today.
I remember when your brother met you. People might think that toddlers can’t truly understand love and admiration, but I strongly disagree. Matthew absolutely fell in love with you the minute that he met you. I still remember him looking deeply into your eyes and you looking straight back at him. It was definitely a Kodak moment, and will remain banked in my mind forever.
When you were a year old, your mother and I purchased 60 milk cows and I had the opportunity to care for you while your mother taught school. We also raised a few pigs, along with chickens, turkeys and heifers. You kids loved it, and followed me around while I fed the animals and kept your mother company while she milked on the weekend. I will say, that some of my fondest memories was watching you and your brother play in the grain cart and “help me” do chores and do yard work. Raking up leaves in the fall was always fun. I would rake them up into huge piles and you and your brother would leap into them and have so much fun. You even talked me into it a few times as well!
One of my early memories is that you could scream bloody murder in the middle of the lawn for absolutely no reason. It was a scream that meant instant help was necessary and it would scare the pants off me every single time. We would all come running and then you would laugh. That was the summer of the 911 scream. Mimi put a stop to that really quick! I believe that it was also the same summer that your brother tried to teach you to pee on a tree outside, and you both swam naked in the little swimming pool that we had on the front lawn.
In January of 1993 your little sister was born. Now we had Bubba, Butts, and Boo. Our family was complete. Just 2 weeks after we brought Cailea home, you were 2 1/2 years old, we had the biggest scare of our lives. While getting ready to go snowmobiling with your uncle, you ran across the feed chute and fell 10 feet onto the cement floor. You lay motionless with eyes open. All of my nursing training went out the door. I scooped you up, keeping you as flat as I could, and ran to your Mimi and Papa’s house crying. We called 911 and because we are 45 minutes from any hospital Uncle Lee and your mom started out in hopes to meet up with the ambulance. I thought I lost my baby girl and was an absolute wreck. On the way to the hospital you started breathing better, but you remained still and quiet. Uncle Lee drove so fast that he passed the ambulance that was waiting at Agway! I was left home with Matt, trying to find someone to milk the cows for me. When Grandpa arrived, Matt and I headed to the hospital, followed by Mimi and Papa who had Cailea with them. After being checked over they determined that your skull was actually fractured. They sent everyone home except me. They put you into a crib that looked like a cage and surgeon was on standby. My heart ached to just hold you and reassure you that everything was going to be okay. I was the only one you wanted right then. Part way through the night, you let out a blood curdling scream. I took you out of the crib and you snuggled right up into my shoulder, I rocked you, and you fell asleep. It was a feeling that I as your Dad will never ever forget, regardless of how aggressive this disease gets. The next morning, Dr. Lovitz lugged you all around the floor while he did his rounds. My baby girl was going to be okay.
You kids would love to go on rides on the 4-wheeler and you and I would go down back each night to see the deer. It was a special time together. However, one day when I returned from hunting, you met me by the silo with your hands on your hips and you told me that I could not shoot your “deeoors”. You were not budging, so I had no choice but to agree that I wouldn’t shoot them, and I did not hunt again until you went to college. That is the truth. Riding the ATV was one of your favorite things to do. In the summer we hooked up the wagon and took you kids on picnics throughout the many trails that are on the farm. Sometimes I think back to those times and wish that I could do it all over again, but I realize it is just one of the many memories in life that we share. We will continue to make new memories, as you will turn 25 this year.
You were so shy, always putting your tongue in your cheek and looking at the ground, so we enrolled you in dance. For the first couple of years you remained extremely shy and reserved. Being out on the stage at recitals you didn’t miss a step, but your tongue was still in your cheek. The third year of dance and you were unstoppable. You and your sister practiced all the time and in any room you happened to be in. I loved watching you two practice together and get better and better all the time. I’m so proud of you for continuing to dance all the way through high school and into college. You put a lump in my throat every single day, as I watch you mature and become such a beautiful young woman. You played other things such as soccer as a bumble bee, basketball, soccer, chorus, and band, but my favorite thing was to watch you dance: absolutely flawless and ever so graceful. You remain to be that way today in all that you aspire to begin and accomplish.
When you were seven your mother and I signed you up to go to summer camp for a week and you were apprehensive but agreed to go. It turned out to be the best thing for you and the camp. You had such a good time that you begged us to go back. Somehow God made it possible for you to go one more week, where you again excelled. The shy little girl that we all knew you to be, was becoming a thing of the past. You were really beginning to shine. You later would go on to become a lifeguard and a counselor for the camp, and spend the summers there instead of home. You were blooming.
You kids talked me into a pool and a trampoline that we had hours of fun on. One day, one of you decided to put the trampoline next to the pool. This was absolutely priceless and the days of fun that this provided was fun for me as well. I will never regret putting the pool in and then purchasing the (3) trampolines.
I remember the “No Prom” party that you threw for all those who didn’t have a date or didn’t want to go to the Prom. I never minded having your friends at the house because it allowed us to know your friends and also know that you were safe. It always worried us when we didn’t know where one of you kids were. Sometimes we worried when we did know where you were! To me, being a parent is the biggest responsibility over anything else. We tried to put you kids first, and I think we have done a pretty good job of doing that.
And then there was the year that you worked as a CST at camp and you got your Life Guard Certification. This was just the start of something that still remains dear to your heart today. Camp became a refuge for you, it is where you met many of your friends that you still keep in contact with today. You came to enjoy the woods, the water, and the smell of camp itself. The many hikes up the mountain to the cross, the endless hours in the canoes and kayaks still bring smiles and laughs to you and I am so glad we decided to send you that first year.
Making the Dance Team, traveling with your Mom, and then eventually your sister, was so special. These were like mini 5 or 6 day vacations for you, and I remember the excitement that you always had prior to traveling to Portland or as far away as Pennsylvania. I remember your last dance and your Senior Solo. You couldn’t have made me prouder. The tears that fell down my cheeks that day were not tears of sadness, but tears of profound pride in who you have become.
Taking you to college put a pit in my stomach and an ache in my heart when I dropped you off and unloaded you without your mother. I cried all the way home. I was so very proud of you, but I couldn’t help but think that I would never have you close by anymore to give you a hug when you needed one. Fortunately you were only an hour away, excelled at school, and fit right in like we knew you would. You became a natural at college, got a job at one of the school’s cafeteria’s, and once again bloomed.
Then you graduated from college with not just one degree, but two: Education and English. You have always had a strong desire to move to Portland and work in the area and you followed your dream. You were hired for In-home support for children with Autism, then worked as a BHP, and then finally you landed a teaching position in Hiram teaching the 4th grade. I was floored when you were hired over the phone by the Superintendent after an interview with the hiring committee. He was on vacation in Florida and called you to offer you the job. This was all done in a two-day time period, which is absolutely unheard of in the teaching profession. Now you have your own classroom and have become so well liked by both kids and the staff. Your mother and I could not possibly be any prouder.
Your sister who was in college at the University of Maine at Farmington transferred to the Southern Maine Community College to live with you, and you have coached her for a year. This has created lasting memories and has made me so very proud. You have turned out to be one of the most responsible young ladies that I have ever known. You are making your own way in this world, as you start to mold these young people in your classroom for their own futures. You are, and will continue, to make a difference. I am so very proud of you and what you have become. I know that you will excel in life, that you will make your mark, a mark that will always be remembered. Please always know that your father is and has always been your biggest supporter, and I will always be cheering you on from the sidelines. I love you so much! Dad.